Trip log, day five – a day of walking around Juneau.
9-Night Alaskan Cruise from Vancouver
July 12, 2019
Personal Navigator – Day 5
Guests Ashore: 6:45 am Guests Onboard: 4:45 pm
The day stated out with Emily going for a scenic run on deck 4 as the Disney Wonder arrived in Juneau. One of the downsides to running on the classic ships is when the ship is arriving into port is the forward area of the running track is closed off. There are two options when this happens, cut through the doors near the Walt Disney Theatre, or run in a U turning around on each side. If this is something that would bother you, plan a run earlier, or wait until the ship is securely tied up and the forward portion of the track is reopened.
We met up for breakfast in Cabanas, and got ready to go ashore. We were the first ship in port and we arrived early giving us an early start.
We took the shuttle into town which was empty since we were the first ship in.
During our visit to Juneau in 2017, we booked a Port Adventure that included a stop at Mendenhall Glacier. We had a great time and had the pleasure of watching a bear devour salmon right off the trail. Well, that particular excursion limited our time at the glacier, so we missed the walk out to the falls.
It has long been our plan to return to Mendenhall to walk the Nugget Falls trail. However, we were not going to book an excursion. Our tour guide/bus driver in 2017 told us to just take the city bus. It was $2 for adults and $1 for children. For us, that would be $10 round trip for transportation, and $10 for the day pass ($5/adults, kids free) at Mendenhall.
We took the courtesy shuttle from the ship to a parking lot near Mount Roberts Tramway then walked to the city bus stop.
Some may be asking why? Well, this was suggested to us and quite frankly we’ve had good luck using public transportation in our various ports of call. Plus, for those reading our trip reports for tips, we wanted to see if this is a good idea or not because it comes up all the time when you google getting to Mendenhall Glacier.
The bus was waiting at the stop when we arrived, but it was still early and we ended up waiting about 15-minutes for the driver to arrive to start his route. Looking at the bus schedule, we were hitting the stops on time.
Our driver had us instantly pegged as tourists going to the glacier and gave us all the information we could need to get back. The key was to take a transfer to an express bus at the mall.
Awesome; we arrived at the end of the line and we had about a scenic 1.5 mile walk to the official entrance of Mendenhall Glacier.
The weather was perfect, and most importantly, it was not raining, so walking was no big deal.
Heck, as soon as the bus pulled away, we were waiting to cross the road, and a women offered to give us ride down to the glacier.
Looking back, it we should have taken her up on the offer, not because of the walk, but because it would have saved us about 30 minutes give or take.
Once at the glacier, we entered the welcome center to purchase our day passes. There is also a self serve kiosk in the drop off area, but we wanted to go to the welcome center to get a National Parks passport stamp.
Day pass in hand, and passport stamp acquired, we set off on the Nugget Falls trail.
It was a fairly easy walk, it would be a stretch to call it a hike. The path was well define and compacted making it an easy terrain to walk. We did see one wheel chair, but they could only go so far as the path turns into rocks as you approach the falls.
The walk to the falls was absolutely worth it. If you so choose, you can walk into the water and stand under the falls. Not sure why you would want to get soaked on a hike, but there were people wading into the water to get close to the falls for photos.
We choose to ignore Captain Ron’s suggestion to stick to the path (there were no guerrillas in the woods – although we did keep a lookout for bears) and walked back to the welcome center area along the shoreline after spotting some glacial ice sitting just off the beach.
We had plans to meet a friend for lunch back in town so we began our trip back. After consulting with the bus schedule, we walked to the bus stop that had the next bus arriving based on the schedule. Our driver on the way out told us we could take any of the busses regardless of where they were heading because they would all go to the mall area where we would transfer to the express bus back to downtown.
The plan was sound, but the one thing we really didn’t keep in mind was the frequency of the busses. If you missed a bus, the next time it came around was an hour later. Well, after reevaluating the bus schedule we decided to get an Uber. Yes, Uber is now available in Ketchikan and Juneau. I’m sure they are available elsewhere, but these are the two ports we checked. Within 4 minutes of launching the Uber app, our truck arrived to take us back to town.
Taking the city bus to Mendenhall Glacier is a great option if you have the time & do not mind the walking. I mean, I did find a $5 bill on the walk back from the glacier to the bus stop, so at least that covered our bus fare! I will try to do a better write up on this later for those interested in this type of touring.
The place to eat in Juneau is Tracy’s Crab Shack, and now there are two locations. The primary location is located near the other cruise docks while the new location is closer to downtown where we picked up the city bus. Really, it is only about 5-10 minutes from the other location and depending on when you show up, it may be worth the walk to avoid the incredibly long lines at the primary location. For example, Tracy’s 2 was empty while we were there, and when we walked back, at Tracy’s 1, there was still a line out the door.
We spent the rest of our time walking around the shops in Juneau starting with the liquor store that offers mix and match beer. Great way to get a variety of Alaskan beers to take back onboard. They also have a selection of wine for those interested.
The fudge shop is another must visit, at least it is for Isabelle.
The Alaskan Brewery store still offers a brewery tour and tasting for $25. A shuttle will take you from the store to the brewery and back. The store does not sell any beer, but it does offer a wide selection of Alaskan Brewery merchandise.
We walked through another few shops based on some of the coupons Isabelle found in the book before returning to the ship.
On the walk back to the ship, Isabelle and I found some postcard stamps.
It was time again to do some laundry, and well, this was on everyone’s agenda. The laundry rooms on the ship were all packed with people waiting in line. Not a good place to be, I witnessed some snark after another passenger walked in to take a look and was informed not so pleasantly there was a line. Being a regular in the laundry rooms, I knew to retreat and come back later once the dinner and shows started. Until dinner, I enjoyed deck 4 watching the sea planes fly out before sail away.
Dinner was in Animator’s Palate with the Vista menu. The food was good and service continues to be excellent. Seems like the speed of service improved all around our section, not just at our table.
After dinner, I bolted back to the room to get our dirty laundry and as expected the launderette was empty. With the laundry in, it was off to join everyone in Crown & Fin for trivia with Jo.
I always set a timer on my watch with a five minute buffer so I will arrive back before the machine cycle ends. I will admit, I did not make it back in time because i wanted to make sure we lost trivia. I would say, i arrived back less than 5 minutes of the washer stoping and saw clothes being placed into a dryer. I get it, it is common, but I was a bit surprised by how short of a time before our clothes were moved over.
We hung out a bit more until it was time to retrieve our clothes from the dryer and headed to bed. Tomorrow is the reason for booking this 9-night cruise, Hubbard Glacier.
Taking the bus how cool 😀 Great trip report 😀
AAAH!!! Jo Slo is your club host!!! She’s fantastic!!!
So glad to see that Jo is on the ship now. When we were on in May, she wasn’t there and must have been on your leave/vacation. She’s a gem. :).
This was her first cruise back.
How much was the Uber back? Do you think it was better than the bus? We sail on Sept. 9th and I’m trying to figure out cheap and safe options for us to get around.
Our über fare was $25 plus taxes and tip.