cruise alaska day 05: juneau

jun007sunrise jun015channel

For some reason, woke up at 4.15am, just in time for sunrise. Took a few pictures then went back to bed, waking up at a more civilised hour of 8am. Breakfast from the buffet: bacon, hard boil egg, french toast, watermelon. Not bad, but I don’t think I want to have such heavy breakfasts all cruise.

Watched as we sailed through the fjords towards Juneau. Peaceful and pretty scenery. Disembarkation was noon. We didn’t book any excursions, I had prepaid the glacier express bus for Mendenhall glacier. The blue bus was distinctive and easily recognised from the tramway car park, about 5-10mins’ walk from where we were docked. $20 round trip, around 20mins to the glacier. They dropped us off at the car park, across from the visitor center.

jun075glacierfalls jun132glacier
jun121kayak jun111nuggetfalls

Just 5 mins from the visitor center and we were at the edge of Mendenhall Lake with already great views to the glacier. A friendly park ranger was there to give informed commentary. We followed the 1 mile nugget falls trail for even better views. Easy paved hike that was really great on a pleasant day, we didn’t see any bears although some reviewers commented that they had. Both the glacier and the falls were so huge, we got close enough to the falls to feel the spray. There were kayakers on the lake too. Very impressive and a must-see in Juneau.

Got the blue bus back to Juneau town and checked out the rows of independent tour groups there. I had at the back of my mind to take mum to a whale watching cruise, and we signed up for one at 5pm. That left us enough time for a late lunch. We both did research before the trip and agreed that we had to go to Tracy’s king crab shack.

jun192tracycombo jun198tracycrablegs

The crab shack was actually 3 shacks. Order at one, pick up drinks at the second and they cook the crab at a third shack. The line was long, but as the greeter said, study the menu and by the time we decided on what to order we would be near the head of the line. We ordered a combo of 1 king crab leg, 4 crab cakes and carb bisque plus an extra order of 1 leg. I was grumpy and thirsty so I ordered both the alaskan amber ale and the summer ale. Total bill just under $75. Not cheap, but it did not disappoint and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal.

jun241whale jun245whale

There was just about enough time to quickly explore the shops in town. Another popular destination would be the red dog saloon, but a) I’d just had 2 beers and b) it was too crowded. We met up with the whale watching group near the tramway carpark. The bus took us 25mins to Lake Auke to board the boat. We speeded to where whales had been seen and we ended up seeing humpback whales, orcas, sea lions and bald eagles. The whales were quite far away, and difficult to photograph. I got a nice video of the trail flip. The humpbacks started breaching, I was too late and only got the splash but later got the action pic from a fellow passenger. This was a really enjoyable evening out; there were only 14 passengers in the tour (vs 100-200 on a ship’s excursion), it was a nice evening and even if we only saw one whale it was worthwhile.

There was around 45mins after we got back to do more shopping. Bought magnets, salad paws, oven glove, ulu knife for me and spent a fortune on canned salmon. They were delicious canned salmon though.

The dining room was still open when we got back onboard so we had a late dinner: king crab provençale (yummy, more king crab), chilled apple soup (more yummy smoothie goodness), surf & turf, burned rhubarb napoleon with redcurrent sorbet. The prawns in the surf and turf was good if a bit salty; the steak came medium well even though I ordered rare. We’re coming round to the thinking that we should avoid red meat and stick with fish and seafood.