Juneau was the first stop on our Alaskan cruise a couple of years ago. We pulled into port shortly after lunchtime. Lunch, by the way, was really just a snack, but it was incredible! The Pearl (our cruise ship) had a wonderful sushi bar simply called Sushi. We were afraid if we didn’t try it that day, we wouldn’t have time to eat there at all. We ordered a quick roll while waiting to port.Pulling into Juneau, which is the capital of Alaska, we really got our first impression of what Alaska looked like. There were lots of mountains and you could see snow on some of them. You could see little houses nestled into the hillsides amongst the firs and evergreens. It was so different looking from Missouri, but looked very cozy! Apparently, Juneau is a rather unusual town because there are NO ROADS that connect it to the rest of Alaska or to the rest of North America because of the rugged terrain. Imagine if the only way to leave your town was by boat or plane…
Our first excursion was to the Mendenhall Glacier. It’s located on Mendenhall Lake and is 13.9 miles long. The glacier was rather impressive once you hiked up close enough to realize how much ice it’s made of. That is A LOT of ice! It was sad to watch the time-lapse video in their visitor center that shows how quickly the glacier is retreating and shrinking due to global warming.
The Mendenhall Glacier is located in the Tongass National Forest. There are several trails in the area, but a number of them were closed due to recent bear sightings. While we DID NOT see any bears, we walked around the Steep Creek trail area. Part of the trail was closed, but some of it was still open. It was pretty cool to see the salmon spawning as we walked over one of the bridges on the trail.
After exploring here, we headed back over to catch our next excursion which was a trip whale watching. In Auke Bay, we boarded an Allen Marine catamaran which had a enclosed cabin that had a snack bar, and an observation deck upstairs. They provided us with binoculars, a route map, and our captain was our tour guide. He guaranteed us a $100 refund if we did not see any whale, and boy, did he deliver! (On whales–no one got the $100.)
We saw numerous different humpbacks throughout the tour, and one even breached but I wasn’t quick enough to capture a pic. If you ever get the chance to go whale watching, do it! It is quite breathtaking to see these creatures in their habitat.
In addition to seeing the whales, the scenery was incredible and the atmosphere was comfy and fun, not to mention the company. We definitely had a memorable day!