July 27, 2010

Alaska Cruise: Juneau

Vacation time was finally upon us. We had planned months ago to do a cruise to Alaska. We boarded NCL's Pearl in Seattle, and over the next week we would be making stops at Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria along with cruising Glacier Bay National Park. Our first port of call was Juneau, the capitol of Alaska. We booked a hiking excursion through the ship. Upon getting off the Pearl we hopped on a bus with about 30 other people and headed out for the short drive. We had three guides from the local Gastineau Guiding company. They gave us some great info while on the ride and even pointed out several bald eagles along the way. We arrived at the parking lot across from the trailhead, which was full of buses. We were given water and snacks and we split into three groups. Our group of about 10 and our guide headed out for the hike. The hike would be about 4 miles round trip. We were surrounded by lush green scenery and crossed a creek where we could see some salmon up close. The pace of our hike was slowed greatly by a few people in our group who were constantly stopping for pictures and obviously don't hike much. Our guide provided us with great information along the way and kept the group moving. The payoff came towards the end of the hike when we got our first view of the Mendenhall Glacier. The spectacular views of the glacier were what we came to Alaska to see, and it was amazing. The end of the hike continued with more views of the glacier all the way until we reached the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. The visitor center area was busy with people, most take a tour bus straight from the ship here. We ended up with only a few minutes before we had to leave, not enough time to even take a look inside the center. It was a nice hike but in the end we did not get to see much more than the visitors who don't hike. The bus dropped us off at downtown Juneau where we had some time to walk around and do some shopping before getting back on the ship.

Norwegian Cruise Line
Gastineau Guiding
Mendenhall Glacier