Port Buzz: Juneau, Alaska

Juneau, Alaska Viator Excursion Review

Live Voyage Report: Juneau, Alaska via Holland America Line. Discover what to do in port.

Land ho! After a couple of days on the water marveling at the glaciers, we pull into port and get off the ship. I am very excited to return to Juneau, when I was here last, I had an amazing time and vowed to get back here soon.

It’s hard to pick my favorite activity in Juneau. I waiver between getting up to Mendenhall Glacier for a hike, or venturing out onto the water to search for whales, and assorted wild life.

I am told by the shore excursion desk on Holland America Line that cruise visitors like the rustic shops in town, and for the more active cruisers, a kayak, dogsled, raft, hiking trail, whale watch, flightseeing trip, or fishing expedition will satisfy. I could not make up my mind, so I decided to do a self-guided walking tour and take a shore excursion that maxed the adrenaline and adventure quotient.

Bears, Whales and Glaciers by Land, Sea and Air

The shore excursion I choose was called: Bears, Whales and Glaciers by Land, Sea and Air. The shore excursion was different than anything offered on the ship in Juneau, so I gave it a try and with the “worry-free policy” offered by Viator, I did not get stressed out about being left behind by the ship.

King (or queen) of the ocean: Orcas

Our lucky day: a female and her baby.

Called America’s most scenic capital, Juneau is surrounded by intercostal waterways that are full of fun cruise activities. I asked some of the other passengers what they were looking forward to in Juneau and people reported that catching fish, seeing whales, and going to a glacier were on their bucket lists. For me, I really wanted to see Orca whales. It was about 10 minutes on our whale watching vessel before my wish was granted. A pod of about five orcas was swimming around in close proximity to our boat.

I am told that the orcas can be seen once every seven days or so. So not only did we get amazing weather (no rain for once in Juneau) but we also got to see some orcas.  Another of my favorite whales was also in port: the North Pacific humbacks were making an appearance in Auke Bay.

Humpback Whales

Humback whale in Auke Bay

The waters around Juneau have generous amounts of krill and small baitfish to keep the humpback’s hunger at bay. Did you know that humpbacks can eat a ton of food per day? With their annual migration coming up, the whales need to get ready for a 3000 mile swim to Hawaii in the near future. Bon Appétit,


Our tour was going to travel to Hoonah where a rather large population of bears is in residence. However, due to very dense fog, that part of the tour was cancelled.  We knew ahead of time that this was the case, and our tour operator Alskaa Galore offered some choices: a full refund or a discount were our two choices.

Everyone in the group decided to continue with the tour, despite the change in plans. I think everyone was happy with their choice. Instead of the trek to Hoonah, we managed to get to Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center where a well-maintained trail is available for bear viewing.

The only bear I got to see due to fog.


Mind your manners.

Although it was not my day to see bears, plenty of other people did. I did manage to find some footprints left behind by a bear who was fishing for salmon in the stream just moments before.

Look closely: that is a footprint from a bear.

Flightseeing over two glaciers

The weather could not have been better for a soar over a glacier. Boarding our aircraft at the Juneau International Airport, we took off to explore the Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau Icefield, and Herbert Glacier.

Fly me to the moon…. I mean a glacier.

We all fit into a 8-seat twin-engine aircraft. By default, I was the co-pilot and after crawling through the aisle and making my way into the seat, I really had a great view. Because of unseasonal weather, flightseeing in Juneau could not have been better (really).

Pilot to copilot: the best seat in the house.
From the cockpit: high above Mendenhall Glacier


Being in the plane really brought the entire region into focus. I can see why they call Mendenhall Glacier: Juneau’s drive-up attraction.

Share on Social Media