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Juneau by Sea: Cruise Ship Experiences and Harbor Highlights


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If you’re visiting Juneau by sea, and are ready to plan your itinerary while in port, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a look at the cruise ship experiences and harbor highlights you won’t want to miss during your visit.

An Alaskan cruise is unlike anything you’ll ever experience. When you dock in Juneau, you’ll have a chance to tour the state’s capital city. This list of activities will help ensure you see sights of interest to you during your short time in port.

Juneau Highlights for Cruise Ship Travelers

Whether you’re in Juneau’s port for a full day or only have several hours to explore, you’ll find a listing of engaging activities you won’t want to miss.

1. Explore Mendenhall Glacier

Most parts of the country don’t have glaciers to explore. As such, Mendenhall Glacier is a must-see experience. The landscape is absolutely stunning and offers panoramic views that feel otherworldly. 

You can hike near the glacier, or take part in a kayaking or whale watching tour to see the glacier from various perspectives. Even the Visitors Center is fun to see and experience with its exhibits and observation areas. 

You don’t necessarily need to pay for a tour to hike in the area, just be sure you don’t try a trail that is too challenging based on your abilities or go off of the trail where you could get lost or injured.

2. See Nugget Falls

From Mendenhall Glacier, you can travel to Nugget Falls by kayak or hiking. This 370-foot waterfall is truly something to behold. Many of the tours in the area will take you close to these falls so you can witness their wonder.

3. Take a Whale Watching Tour

See whales in their natural habitat. Many tours in Juneau guarantee that you’ll see whales. Plus, most come with snacks and beverages. Book these tours well in advance of your travels because it is a prime activity in Juneau that tends to fill up quickly.

4. Ride the Goldbelt Tramway

Juneau by Sea

Climb 4,000 feet above the Gastineau Channel to see the city like no other. While there is a fee to ride the tramway, it’s worth the price. Plus, at the top, you’ll find a neat gift shop with unique items that you can have shipped home.

The views are incredible from the top. You can hike up to fully experience the scenery and ride the tramway back down if you want to do some hiking while in Juneau.

5. See an Icefield

The best way to see an icefield in Juneau is to take a helicopter ride. Many tour companies offer these tours. They are fairly pricey so determine what all you want to see in Juneau before booking your tour as this might consume your budget for your cruise visit to the area. 

6. Go on a Downtown Walking Tour

Downtown Juneau is filled with shops and restaurants as well as important landmarks. Travel Juneau outlines places you might want to explore during your walking tour. The tour includes breakdowns based on what street you’re on so you can make your way through the area without missing important landmarks.


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7. Go Fishing

Alaska is known for its salmon. You can go on a salmon fishing excursion or just rent fishing equipment and head to Auke Bay where you can fish off a dock. Here, you’ll find many types of fish, including salmon and Dolly Varden.

Juneau has plenty of other fishing locations, including Gastineau Channel, Outer Point, The Breadline, Stephens Passage and Chatham Strait. The benefit to Auke Bay is that you can get there on the city bus, Capital Transit.

8. Explore Sealaska Heritage Center

Alaska has a rich heritage thanks to the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Peoples. Spend some time learning more about that heritage through the exhibits available at Sealaska. You can spend several hours exploring the center while learning more about the area and its rich history.

9. Take Part in a Salmon Bake

There are many salmon bake excursions available. Not only will you get to enjoy a wilderness experience but you can also enjoy the area’s salmon in one of the most authentic ways. You’ll also get a chance to talk with other visitors and the locals who run the excursion. It’s like a fun cookout with some of the friendliest individuals you’ll meet.

10. Visit the Alaska State Museum

Explore Alaskan art, culture and history at the Alaska State Museum. It is only a .75 mile walk from the cruise port, which makes it an easy place to learn about Juneau quickly when you only have a short visit.

11. Taste the Local Beers

Alaskan Brewing Public House is located downtown and makes it easy to enjoy a flight to taste test the local brews. Plus, it has stunning views thanks to the outdoor seating. You can also grab some food to go along with your beer.

12. Taste the Cuisine with a Food Tour

Enjoying the diverse cuisine Juneau offers requires many meals. And when you’re in port for a cruise, you don’t have adequate time to do so. A good way to taste the diverse cuisine is to take a Juneau Food Tour. You’ll get the chance to taste test many dishes as well as classic beverages available in the area. Plus, it’s a great chance to see downtown Juneau as you move from place to place.

13. See the Brown Bears

Pack Creek is a great place to see brown bears in their natural habitat. You can take a day tour to the area where guides will help you stay safe while you observe these incredible animals. The area has strict rules that the rangers have set to keep visitors safe. To protect people, access to the Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area requires a permit. And the rangers only issue permits for 24 people per day, making these tours exclusive. Look into local tours and book well in advance to guarantee you get to see these animals in their natural habitat. The experience is unlike anything you’ll see at a zoo.

14. Experience the Alaskan Gold Rush

You can take part in a gold panning tour or visit the Last Chance Mining Museum on your own. The museum does have somewhat limited hours of operation so check the Gastineau Channel Historical Society website to ensure you’re visiting during operating hours.

15. Visit the Rainforest

Juneau is home to one of the most diverse ecosystems you’ll find. You can go from exploring a glacier to traversing a rainforest in Tongass National Forest. You can take a rainforest tour. Some of these tours include ziplining through the wilderness. 

Where to Stay in Juneau

If you have the option to stay overnight in Juneau or you’re ready to plan a return trip to see more of the area after enjoying it during a cruise, Juneau Hotel is prepared to host you for your stay. Our suites make your stay comfortable and enjoyable, complete with a full kitchen and washer and dryer in every suite. Bring the whole family to explore Juneau and make lasting memories you won’t soon forget. Book your stay now.

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