Alaska Cruise Diary: Juneau

Our first steps onto Alaskan soil!

JEF_Post11_IMG1

On day 3 of our Carnival Alaska cruise we stopped at the first port, Juneau. Here are 5 things we experienced in Alaska’s capital.

1. Holy smokes, there are bald eagles everywhere.

JEF_Post11_IMG2

2. There are beautiful hiking trails within walking distance of the port.

JEF_Post11_IMG3

Follow the signs throughout downtown to find the trails. Mt. Roberts is the more difficult trail, and the entrance is closer so we headed there first. As we approached the entrance to Mt. Roberts, we spotted some beautiful rushing water beside an unmarked but well-worn trail, headed in the opposite direction. We decided to go that way instead. These photos are from that trail.

JEF_Post11_IMG4

The water was so blue!!

3. Be mindful of bears.

Not even one hour on Alaskan soil and less than a mile outside Juneau… and the unimaginable happened.

JEF_Post11_IMG5

Right after this photo was taken, JJ was ahead of me kneeling down, taking a photo of a bridge. As I waited, I glanced over my right shoulder and a black bear the size of a small vehicle was 20 feet away and coming towards me on the trail. It had its head down, looking for something. With the loud, rushing water I don’t think he saw or heard us. It was so surreal, my body flooded with adrenaline and I did exactly what I’ve always heard you’re not supposed to do —I turned around and got away as quickly as I could. I got so dizzy from the fear that I almost passed out. But as I collected myself, I watched the bear peacefully make its merry way, across the mountain, totally oblivious…

SERIOUSLY!! A bear?! Everyone made fun of me the night before when I mentioned bringing bear spray. The only way I want to see a bear is through binoculars, or inside a vehicle. I am NOT a fan. Bears generally want nothing to do with people, but surprising one within striking distance is not a good idea. If you do go hiking in Alaska, please read these tips like these for the proper responses on what to do if you see a bear. It gives tips specific to types of bears and what the situation entails. (Hint: running is pretty much never the right call!) I felt terrible that I potentially put us in danger. Note to self: J is not good with bears.

4. Mendenhall Glacier, be sure to visit:

JEF_Post11_IMG6

After our hike, we boarded a bus for Carnival’s “Best of Juneau” excursion. Our first stop was Mendenhall Glacier at Tongass National Forest. There are signs all over downtown Juneau advertising tours and transportation to the park (about a 20 minute drive), so you have no excuse not to go. There’s an easy, flat trail that takes you right up close to both the Glacier and Nugget Falls. You can’t go to Juneau and not see it – it’s breathtaking!

JEF_Post11_IMG7

JEF_Post11_IMG8

JEF_Post11_IMG9

5. Whale watching is another must in Juneau:

JEF_Post11_IMG10

Part of our “Best of Juneau” excursion included several hours of whale watching in Auke Bay Harbor. They offer a $100 cash refund if you don’t see whales, but don’t count on it – they have yet to give a refund in 9 years. It was easy to see why – there were humpback whales, sea lions and harbor seals everywhere! Too many to count, it was amazing!

JEF_Post11_IMG11

JEF_Post11_IMG12

JEF_Post11_IMG13

JEF_Post11_IMG14

Overall, Juneau was amazing. Tomorrow’s post is the final installment of our Alaska cruise diary– I’ll be sharing what happened in Skagway (another bear encounter, of sorts) and Ketchikan!

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.