Juneau: Alaska Adventure

| September 3, 2008

Our 36-hour stay in Juneau offered enough excitement to qualify as an Alaska adventure on its own.

There are cruises to many destinations -- each with something unique to offer, but for those seeking to commune with nature Alaska is especially appealing. The state has some of the world's most intriguing wildlife; wild bears, orca dolphins, sea lions, salmon and even whales of several species. Alaska may be part of the United States, but in terms of fresh natural beauty it is worlds apart.

90% of Juneau's tourists arrive by sea and there are four ways to do that. Most arrive on large, modern cruise ships making seven-day roundtrip voyages from Seattle or Vancouver. The ships sail north to the Alaska panhandle, making daylight calls in Ketchikan, Sitka and Juneau, and then return to where they started. Other 7-day large ship cruises are one-way voyages ending in either Whittier or Seward and usually include land tours of Denali Park via bus or railroad.

Seward Vacations

The third option is not as well known -- it is the local Alaska Ferry system. The ferry does not arrive in downtown Juneau, it terminates about 20 miles north. It also does not offer any special sightseeing. It is merely a transport for people and cars from the mainland to the cities of the Alaska Inside Passage barrier islands, the same cities the cruise lines visit.

The last option is the one we just completed; a cruise on the small "adventure" cruise line American Safari Cruises. Our ship offered one-week cruises roundtrip out of Juneau. The only other cruise line to offer such "adventure" cruises and to homeport in Juneau is Cruise West.

click on pictures below for larger images:

American Safari Cruises - Explorer   Holland America Ryndam - Alaska Glacier

If you take a large cruise ship to Alaska you probably won't get more than about 10 hours in Juneau, and while that is too bad it is still enough time to pick at least one great adventure. Since our cruise was starting in Juneau we decided to arrive two days early. With just 36 hours in Juneau I can honestly say we had a true Alaskan adventure with enough memories to last a lifetime.

What did we do? We flew by helicopter over a real glacier. We even landed on top to explore the crevices and taste the freshly melted glacial ice. We saw salmon swimming upstream to their mating pools. We saw a wild mother black bear and her two cubs catch a live salmon and devour it. We even saw humpback whales breaching within yards of our boat -- 30 ton whales jumping completely out of the water.

Far more than we ever expected, all of this was achieved in about 24 hours of daylight by arriving a day and a half before our cruise. Whether you arrange to spend a week there or just one day in port you can still give yourself memories to last a lifetime. Here is our guide to Juneau attractions:

Continue Article >> Juneau -- What you Can See from the Cruise Ship (Part 2)

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