After a tremendous stop in Ketchikan our next port of call was Juneau. Juneau which is sandwiched between the mountain ranges and the Pacific Ocean and with no road access to, is the only state capital in the United States that can only be reached by airplane or boat. Alaska’s state capital is also one of its most beautiful cities and one of the most visited communities in the state. With so much to see and do, and just the one full day in port we chose to take one of the whale watching tours and also to visit the Mendenhall Glacier.
As the capital of the US State of Alsaka, you may expect Juneau to be a metropolis of a city. However, this historic town has much to offer in terms of history. A mix of old and new, the main hub is the waterfront where there were cruise ships, fishing boats and the occasional sea plane. The city centre has a variety of different things to see and do, however the main reason people choose to visit Juneau, is for the amazing natural scenery and abundant wildlife.
Juneau is rated one of the best whale watching spots in the world which made my decision very easy to sign up for a whale watching experience. I have been fortunate enough to partake in whale watching in several areas in Australia but Juneau offered another level of excitement. The nutritionally rich food that comes from the glaciers offers a smorgasbord of foods for the whales. Over 500 humpback whales make their way to Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage which is their home during the summer months. The whales breaching not far from our boat was truly magical. We watched them flipping and breaching. As I was standing on the deck of the boat beside a guy with a very colourful camera, a hummingbird appeared and hovered for several seconds at the guy’s camera. This was my first and only time of seeing a hummingbird in real life and it was memorable.
Less than half an hour from the centre of Juneau is Alaska’s most accessible glacier, The Mendenhall Glacier is fed by an ice field high above Juneau. We caught the shuttle from the whale watching to the glacier. Mendenhall Glacier is immense; photos do not give its majestic size a description worthy of its enormity. There is a visitor centre with a theater showing a 15-minute film on Mendenhall Glacier, a bookstore operated by nonprofit organization Discovery Southeast, and exhibits on wildlife, history, and glacial and geological changes. Rangers provide talks at various indoor and outdoor sites in summer.
After taking the shuttle from the glacier back to town, I had time for a couple of vinos and email catch up using wi fi at the Triangle Club bar before returning to the ship.
More than just seeing a new city, a trip for me to Juneau meant doing things that would seem unfathomable back home.