Juneau – So Much To See In So Little Time

Cruise ship tourist street

Juneau, Alaska

At once, the beauty and the curse of sailing a cruise ship are the short port stays. While the varied and very full itinerary allows the traveler to visit many locations, there is seldom enough time in port to see (and photograph) much of anything beyond those iconic sites that the hordes of cruisers all flock to see.

Our escort into port via the US Coast Guard

My wife, Lynn, and I are relatively novice cruisers, with only three cruises in our past, we looked to share the Alaskan adventure with others in our family. The list of takers on our open-ended family invite numbered a total of seven, Lynn and I included. My sister and her friend, a nephew and his wife and her cousin accompanied us on our voyage north from Seattle.

First views of Alaska sunrise at sea

Even though my nephew and his wife had already visited the largest state (in land mass) in the United States, I became the family “cruise director”. We created an itinerary in advance, purchased most of the shore excursions online prior to departing, and generally chose activities that all of us would enjoy. This gallery is the first of a series of blog posts highlighting what I think are the best photos I captured in our journey.

Norwegian Jewel leaving port at Juneau

Juneau is a city of around 32,000 population, and the cruise tourist industry has become one of the major economic forces during the short Alaskan summer. Cruise ship passengers by the thousands show up daily and there are not that many docks capable of handling the giant floating hotels. On this cruise, our third with Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), and the second on the Norwegian Pearl, we shared the route with the Norwegian Jewel. As it happened, there was only room in the port for one of NCL’s ships at a time. The Jewel would arrive early in the morning and depart by 2 PM. Our ship would arrive at 2 PM and leave at 10 PM.

State Capitol Building at Juneau

Juneau would be the only stop where we did not choose an NCL sponsored excursion. We had a loosely defined notion that we wanted to see Mendenhall Glacier and visit a Russian Orthodox Church. When we left the ship, we made a beeline for the taxi stand, mostly because everyone else was making a beeline for the free shuttle buses that were taking everyone else into town. There were a couple of taxi vans available, and the next taxi in line happened to be one of the vans. The older Ford van held all seven of us, and the taxi driver offered to be our tour guide (for an hourly fee, instead of a metered fee.) It turned out to be the most economical tour of the trip, costing only $30 US per person.

I submit for your approval, a gallery of images photographed in and near the Alaskan state capitol, Juneau. Click on any of the photos below to view an enlarged image and scroll through the gallery.

 

John Steiner

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