Port and Shore Excursions
This was our first port and our first time stepping foot in Alaska. Just so you know, there will be a ton of cruise passenger oriented shops at every port, with a bunch of junk you don't need, or maybe you do. Once you get past these shops, you get into the real town. The star of the show in Juneau is the Mendnehall Glacier. You can take an expensive tour, or even fly over it, but for $7. each way you can take a shuttle bus there and have a similar experience. People say there are better times of year than others to go, but we saw plenty of bears, and salmon swimming upstream, and the glacier itself was absolutely jaw dropping spectacular. We went for a nice hike on East Glacier Trail, saw no bears, and found a cool waterfall. We also took a brief stop at the Red Dog. The Piano player and the sawdust on the floor is all you imagine it to be. The Alaskan White Ale is out of this world, and the potato skins were exactly what we needed after our hike. Oh, and lesson of the day, it is VERY EASY to bring beer on the ship, which saved us quite a bit of money. Oh, and all the Juneau shuttle bus drivers make exactly the same jokes.
Now I rate Ketchikan a 4, because it is actually a really cool town. We had a shorter visit, and we saw the Lumberjack show which is actually fun and worth it, but I would definitely come back here. There is quite a bit to do, but our time allowed for one activity and we did the Lumberjack show, and pretty much everyone had a good time there. We grabbed a bite at the Pioneer Cafe and the house made hand breaded halibut and chips were awesome. You know a good spot when the locals are eating there. The duty free liquor store right by the ships had some of the cheapest liquor I have ever seen. 3-3 on bringing beer on board, and sodas for that matter which saves you a couple bucks as well.
People say that this is a little bit like disneyland, and it is. Its basically a fake town that only exists during cruise season. That doesn't mean its not fun, and that the scenery isn't beautiful. The White Pass Railroad is probably the most popular attraction, but we took a shuttle bus that goes the same route, and costs 35 instead of 175. That, and we got to get off the bus and take lots of pictures along the way. It also included gold panning, but I would say that it was a highly UN authentic experience. The Skagway Brewing company was ok, but they were out of a few beers. The Red Onion is a good stop too, the Brothel girls are at least ok for a good laugh, the tour is $5, and the food is more than decent. Again, success in the bringing beer on board category.
To be fair to Victoria, we had one reason to stop here, and it was to go to the Casino View Royal. We got in a cab and went straight there. The casino is nice but I like a nice bar, which they don't have. I am sure downtown Victoria would have been really nice, but to be honest, we didn't see much of it. If you like casinos, you will probably like the Casino View Royal. They have a free shuttle to and from town.