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Port Of Call: Juneau, Alaska

By: Ben Hall
 
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Overview

 

Alaska’s state capital, Juneau, is a dominant destination in the northern half of the Inside Passage. A small, picturesque city perched on the Gastineau Channel, it’s a dramatic spot where towering mountain peaks cascade down to the sea. Inaccessible by road, it first appeared on the map during the 1880's thanks to gold mining, and in more recent years returned to the spotlight thanks to the activities of the then US governor, Sarah Palin. Although it can can get crowded during the peak cruising season, Juneau has an appeal beyond the twee tourist shops, and plenty for visitors from sightseeing to active pursuits. All you have to do is get away from the crowds, and pray that it doesn't rain.

 

The Details

 

Location: The southern part of Alaska’s Inside Passage.

 

Language: English.

 

Currency: US dollar.

 

Docking/Anchoring: There are several places where cruise ships dock, all of which are within walking distance of the downtown area, but on day when there are more than four ships in port your vessel might have to anchor and operate tenders for guests to get ashore.  

 

Transport: There are plenty of taxis where ever there are cruise ships but the town is literally right on your doorstep and within easy walking distance.

 

Don’t Miss

 

The Mount Roberts Tramway is located on Franklin Street near the main pier, and the tram takes visitors up some 550 metres to the mountain top to enjoy a combination of easy to challenging hiking trails. One option is to hike up or down or both, but it's challenging, takes time, and isn't recommended on a wet day as it will leave your shoes filthy. 

 

The Alaska State Museum on Whittier Street features a range of interesting exhibits from various Northwest Coast Indian tribes.

 

From Juneau you can enjoy a variety of activities on the water, from kayaking and salmon or halibut fishing, to whale watching tours. 

 

The Alaskan Brewing Company is the local brew house where you can take a tour and enjoy tastings. It's just outside of downtown on Shaune Drive, a short taxi ride away, with a variety of year-round and seasonal brews on offer.

 

If your taste buds prefer something sweeter, the Alaskan Fudge Company is in the heart of downtown Juneau offering all manner of chocolates, fudge and various other edible souvenirs to eat and take home.

 

Just five kilometres out of town, Macaulay Salmon Hatchery is the place to learn all about salmon. Besides raising and harvesting the fish, it is also a fascinating display of local marine life.

 

Best Photo Op

 

On a clear weather day it’s hard to beat the top of Mount Roberts, where you get a sweeping panoramic view of Juneau and the Gastineau Channel.

 

Shopping 

 

All of Juneau’s Downtown Streets are packed with souvenir and gift shops as this is a place that relies heavily on tourism. Indigenous art is perhaps the most popular choice and this is where you can pick up some sculptures, jewellery and mini carved totem poles.

 

Eating And Drinking

 

Juneau is famous for salmon and there are plenty of good restaurants in town offering menus of great seafood. Also look out for halibut and crab which is also caught locally. Juneau is home to Heritage Coffee, an international award-winning roaster and The Alaskan Brewing Company produce a range of good beers which is sold throughout town.

 

Excursions

 

If you only do one thing in Juneau, head for the Mendenhall Glacier. Although it has shrunk in the last 20 or so years, it is still an easy glacier to see from land. Located just 20 kilometres from downtown, there are walking trails to enjoy on good weather days, and rangers will make sure bears are kept at bay. You can take a shuttle from Juneau, go on a ship's excursion or take a taxi. 

 

Other excursions to consider will hit the wallet hard, but they are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Pick of the bunch is dog sledding on Mendenhall Glacier with huskies, glacier hiking, and flight seeing helicopter rides over Juneau and the glacier. Fishing tours are also popular in this part of the world.  

 

 

 

 
 

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