Bustling with tourists during cruise season, Juneau is a town filled with lots of charm and an abundance of beautiful scenery. Many quaint stores and nice eateries fill the downtown area, near where the cruise ships dock. And for those who are looking to see more than just downtown Juneau, take advantage of the great excursions and shore activities offered through the cruise ship or the local tour companies. Activities like hiking, whale watching, glacier viewing, fishing charters, zip lining, and salmon bakes are some of the most popular choices amongst cruise goers.
Mount Roberts Tramway
Just after exiting the cruise ship dock is the entrance for Mount Roberts Tramway. Travel 1800 feet to the top and be rewarded with spectacular views of Juneau and Douglas Island. There are many hiking trails to explore, and for the non-hikers, there is a bald eagle and nature center, bear viewing platforms, and even a restaurant to relax and enjoy the amazing views.
Numerous tours are available that take passengers to nearby areas around Juneau where whales tend to frequent. Humpback whales are plentiful in the region, and on a good day visitors might even be treated to an Orca whale passing by. Other animals like seals, sea lions, bald eagles, porpoises, deer, and maybe even a bear might make an appearance on these tours as well.
Located about 13 miles from the downtown cruise ship area, Mendenhall Glacier is pretty much in the middle of town. The glacier is visible from the road and there is a visitor center where people can stop in to get a closer peek. If that’s not enough, consider one of the local tours that offer options to fly over or land on the glacier. For the real adventurous types, there are even dog-sledding tours on the glacier.
Tracy Arm Fjord and Sawyer Glacier
This is a longer trip and may not be accessible to all cruise ship passengers as it depends on how early the ship docks in port. This is a full day adventure that takes visitors through the Tracy Arm Fjord, passing by waterfalls and alongside icebergs said to rival those in Glacier Bay National Park. The ultimate destination is Sawyer Glacier, which is a massive glacier. The journey is filled with bald eagles, whales, seal pups, and sometimes even an occasional mountain goat.
Many tour companies and local fishermen offer charters and tours. Departing from nearby Auke Bay, fishing tours offer the opportunity to catch some great local salmon and halibut. Auke Bay is located just past the Mendenhall Glacier, providing some great views of the glacier itself as you head out of the harbor. Many of these tours specialize in cruise ship passengers so they are well versed in getting the maximum amount of fishing time in, while ensuring no one misses their ship!
Zip Line Tours
Also sometimes called “canopy tours”, zip lining treats participants to the thrill of exploring the Tongass National Forest through the trees. Adventurers are clipped into gear and glide through the forest from one tree-based platform to the next. Many zip line tours can be combined with other popular excursions like Mount Roberts Tramway, whale watching, Mendenhall Glacier, along with some other unique options like a jeep tour, bicycle ride, or even a rock climbing adventure.