Are you ready for a wilderness adventure of a lifetime? Alaska’s capital, Juneau, is one stop on your Carnival cruise vacation that’s sure to get the blood pumping. From dog sledding through awe-inspiring scenery to flying high over majestic glaciers, here are the top 8 things to do during your cruise to Juneau.
1. Explore the Juneau Icefield
An excursion to Mendenhall Glacier puts you in the heart of the Juneau Icefield. Humpback and killer whales, porpoises, sea lions, bald eagles, bears, and mountain goats surround the 13-mile-long glacier, so have your camera ready for thrilling wildlife sightings.
To add to the excitement, you can hop on board a water jet-powered catamaran, specifically designed for wildlife viewing. Or, how about a seaplane voyage, for a bird’s eye view? Seeing glaciers by air is one of the best ways to truly grasp the immensity of Juneau’s incredible landscapes.
2. Go Whale Watching
Can’t wait to see a massive humpback whale breaching the surface of the deep blue sea? When you’re on this whale watching tour, you are 99% guaranteed to spot whales among the long list of Alaska’s exciting inhabitants.
A whale watching tour gives you front row seats to show stopping action, from the comfort of custom-built vessels designed for up-close and personal viewings. Along the way, you can look forward to spotting orcas, sea lions, seals and seabirds, with commentary from naturalist science guides.
3. Discover the Tracy Arm Wilderness Area
An exploration of the Tracy Arm Wilderness Area means traversing glacial-blue waters, with the sounds of creaking ice and bird calls. That’s until you’re close to the world-famous Sawyer Glaciers, where segments of ice break off and crash into the sea below, with thunderous sound to add to the drama.
You’ll experience the spectacle from the comfort and safety of a waterjet-powered boat, then wind on through a 30-mile fjord, with awe-inspiring views of cliffs rising 4,000-feet towards the sky and the chance to see powerful waterfalls, seals, bald eagles and migratory shorebirds.
4. Zipline Through the Trees
When you’re on a family cruise, take the kids on the ultimate adventure, at Eaglecrest Ski Area. The experience starts in the Tongass National Forest, where experts will harness you up, ready to soar through the trees. How? On a series of ziplines that whip you through the forest to land on treehouse platforms, where you’ll take a breath and listen to guides sharing facts about Alaska.
The finale is crossing a suspension bridge over a rushing, salmon-spawning stream. However the action doesn’t stop there. There’s also a lodge where you can give axe-throwing a go and visit the souvenir store for a fix of shopping in Juneau.
5. Try Dog Sledding
Do you know what “mushers” are? You’ll find out when their teams of gorgeous huskies whisk you through the wilderness! A dog sledding excursion gives you a behind the scenes glimpse at a musher’s camp to understand the life of a dog sled driver. Then, you’ll go on a thrilling ride over wooded trails in the rainforest, zipping through spruce and hemlock trees. You’ll also get the chance to cuddle some new four-legged friends!
6. Experience Whitewater Rafting
If you’ve never tried whitewater rafting, make your first time one to remember in the midst of dramatic glaciers and soaring peaks. A rafting excursion on the Mendenhall River is perfect for beginners, with moderate rapids providing the thrills, without so many spills. Most of the time, you’ll float down the river with plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife along the banks, with a guide to steer you through. If you’re experienced at whitewater rafting, you can opt for an unguided paddle raft instead, so you can challenge yourself on the rapids.
History and Culture
7. Pan for Gold
If you’re a history buff looking for what to do in Juneau, get ready to delve into the region’s exciting gold rush era, with a tour of Gold Creek. The scene is set with a guide dressed in 19th-century attire, ready to lead you in the footsteps of early prospectors, Joe Juneau and Richard Harris. You’ll get to go on your own search for gold, while panning on the banks of the famous creek.
You can also don your hard hat and visit the Alaska Gastineau Mill to explore an underground conveyor tunnel. Here, you’ll get a feel for the mining lifestyle, in what was once the world’s largest gold producing mills.
8. Search for Salmon
In terms of things to eat in Juneau? Salmon is the No. 1 choice! But, there are many ways you can enjoy wild Alaskan salmon, including a visit to Macaulay Salmon Hatchery. From late June to September you’ll see adult spawning salmon, and the visitor center offers educational exhibits, aquariums, and a gift shop.
When you can’t wait to catch your own, join a fishing charter with a local captain, to teach you how best to do it and take you to the top spots. The one thing you must do however, is experience an Alaskan outdoor salmon bake. Grilled over an open fire and generally served with Tongass wild rice pilaf, salads and cornbread, the smell alone is enough to make your mouth water!
Along with local cuisine, Juneau’s adventure activities, remote wilderness and historical attractions thrill Carnival guests on every Alaskan cruise. As far as cruise destinations go, the region is a trending hotspot for travel that simply has to be seen, to be believed. So, what are you waiting for?