Juneau Cruise Hints and Tips:

Mendenhall GlacierWe highly recommend that if you love to hike, go to Mendenhall Glacier.  This excursion can be taken efficiently and cheaply simply be talking to one of the many van/bus booths that you will find just in front of the Roberts Mountain Tramway.  Find out what time the next bus goes, how often they go and  on what schedule.  Be sure to inquire about the time of their last trip back if relevant. (Some transport companies stop service earlier than others.) Also ask and note what color the bus is, as if you purchase round-trip fare, you will be returning with the same company and you want to be able to identify your bus! (You might even wish to check out the buses as they pull into the lot prior to your purchase.  The prices of these transport companies are competitive.) We steered clear of vendors who were overly aggressive about additional tour package offerings. 

Mendenhall Glacier and LakeOnce at Mendenhall, feel free to roam the visitors center, but don't let this distract you from taking a walk if you like to hike.  Start following the trail adjacent to the visitor center, but be sure to wear good hiking shoes.  You likely will be navigating stepping stones to cross a number of small shallow streams, and if you walk far enough, you may be doing some rock hopping.  You will be rewarded with lovely views, but be certain to watch your time. 

There is also a very nice easy walking trail with views of Mendenhall lake from just behind the bus return pick-up stop.  Look for a pathway heading down.  Be alert.  Bears may be present.

Other recommendations for Juneau: On a clear day, taking the aerial tram up Mount Roberts is a very nice experience.  You will find good hiking trails and views up there, although you may find that you have a fair amount of company on these trails.  We never purchase our tram tickets until we arrive, as there is no point going up if the area is covered in fog or it is raining.  The tram office has monitors that show webcams views of the upper mountain, so you can check the current conditions before purchasing your ticket. As of our 2011 trip, the mountaintop webcam monitor screens were missing. The weather below was gray and rainy, and the ticket clerk confirmed that it was the same on the mountaintop. It pays to ask as the conditions on the mountaintop can be surprisingly different from the street level.

      I also highly recommend a visit to the Alaska State Museum.  This museum is a short walk from the cruise ships docks.  Here you will find a wealth of state specific historical information.  I found the exhibits on mining history and gems to be most intriguing.  This display included collections of original photographs that let you glimpse what life was like for the prospectors.  I also found the historical information about the United States purchase of Alaska from Russia insightful. (Moderate admission fee charged.  The museum store offers Native handcrafted items and Alaska specific books.)  This makes a good rainy day activity.

For the techies in the crowd, stop at the Juneau library for 30 minutes of free internet access before returning to the ship for the day. 

Hope you enjoy our shots of Mendenhall Glacier and our sunset scenes  from Mount Roberts.

 Happy cruising!

-Therese & Reid

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