Is it possible to get much out of doing a port on your own? Our ship will stop in Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway. We have plans for Juneau, but nothing yet for the other two. Shopping and wondering around town doesn't appeal to me. Besides checking out "points of interest" in either location, what do most people do who do not book shore excursions.
We were hoping to do a little hiking, but thus far I have not found a lot of information about this.
No need to rent a car. My husband and I were on Celebrity's Mercury last Summer and never did a single shore excursion. We just got off the boat, headed to the ranger station and asked where the good day hikes were. If you don't like shopping or wandering around town, you will hate Skagway. However, my husband and I found a fabulous trail just a couple blocks from the center of town. It is a bit of a strenuous uphill climb with switchbacks, etc. but is definitely worth it. It is called the Dewey Lakes Trail System. We hiked to Lower Dewey Lake, which is an absolutely pristine mountain lake with pine forests and wildflower meadows all around. Completely silent except for sounds of the creek running and birds calling (get the picture?). If you're adventurous, you can go on to Upper Dewey Lake, but we did not. In Juneau, we hiked to an breathtaking mountain waterfall, called "Ebner Falls." The trail to the falls was fairly tame and was lined with wildflowers, etc. The trailhead is near the Last Chance Mining Museum and anyone in town can direct you to it.. In Ketchikan, we walked to a bald eagle conservation center, which was interesting, and then walked to a salmon hatchery and totem pole museum. With a town map, you can easily get to these places by yourself, but you have to be willing to do quite a bit of walking.
Lonely Planet's Alaska guide contains trail recommendations for the towns you will be going to. This is the only guidebook I found that seemed to have recommendations for day hikes.