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Juneau, Alaska: The Top 5 Shore Excursions

Jun 12, 2008
Juneau is the most visited port city on the entire Alaskan cruise route. The city is located in an absolutely spectacular location, on a narrow salt water channel, surrounded on all sides by huge, lush mountains and vast glaciers.

If you are planning a cruise to Alaska, the odds are that you will be stopping in Juneau. Having been to the city and fallen in love with it, I have compiled this list of the top 5 shore excursions for cruise ship passengers visiting Juneau.

1. Mt. Roberts Tramway

The Mt. Roberts tramway is a low-cost option that is nonetheless one of the best excursions in Juneau. The tram picks you up from the waterfront right by the cruise docks, and it whisks you up into the mountains high above the city. The view from the top of the tramway is spectacular, and there are hiking trails for people of all abilities.

2. Four Glacier Helicopter Adventure

This aerial tour is simply spectacular, taking you over the vast and awe-inspiring Juneau Icefield and highlighting four specific glaciers: the rapidly advancing Taku Glacier, the retreating Norris Glacier, the Hole-in-the-Wall Glacier -- with its amazing ice spires -- and a unique floating glacier. These glaciers are actually rivers of ice and are changing daily, always presenting new sights to behold. This really is a once in a lifetime experience.

3. Mendenhall Glacier River Rafting

This is another incredibly unique and unforgettable experience. You take a short bus ride from the cruise docks to the visitor's center at the base of the immense Medenhall Glacier. There, you will board a river raft for a trip down the Mendenhall River that will take you past the immense face of the glacier. You'll see amazing wildlife and take in absolutely spectacular scenery. It's a thrilling adventure for everyone from beginners to experienced rafters.

4. Juneau Helicopter Flightseeing and Glacier Trek

This adventure includes a 30 minute helicopter ride that will give you the most spectacular views of glaciers from above - and you really haven't experienced glaciers until you've seen them from the air. Then you will spend two hours on top of a glacier with an ice axe, crampons, and full ice climbing gear - all provided by the tour operator. You will exploring the glacier close up, from a point of view very few people ever get to experience. It's thrilling and amazing, and you'll be taught all the skills you need during an orientation session, so beginners are welcome.

5. The Helicopter Dog Sledding Excursion

What could be more quintessentially Alaskan than a dog sled ride? Now combine that with a thrilling helicopter ride and aerial glacier tour, and you've got one amazing shore excursion.
About the Author
Scott Russell is a writer, consultant, frequent traveler, and an editor of the Alaska Cruise Advisor, which provides information on all aspects of Alaskan cruising, including details on Juneau and dozens of Alaskan shore excursions.
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