We had a very short time in Seattle and didn't get to visit as much as I would have liked. We did go to Pike Place Market. We had some snacks and a beer sampler at Pike Brewing Company, at seafood chowder at Pike Place Chowder, watched fish flying through the air at Pike Place Fish Market, marveled at all of the flower arrangements on flower row, and generally enjoyed ourselves.
Mom and I then caught the monorail to Seattle Center. We had tickets to see Chihuly's Art and Glass Exhibit. It was $19/pp and well worth it. Words cannot describe! Check out the video for how amazing this exhibit is. Take your earphones and smart phone as there is a free audio tour available on their website.
We used the lightrail service from our hotel at the airport to downtown. It was easy and not very expensive.
There are 2 bus services in Juneau that provide a shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier. The cost is $16 round trip. You can buy tickets from the representative selling tickets at the various booths as you get off the ship. We purchased our tickets and had a nice narrated drive in an old school bus to the national park. There is no admission fee for the glacier itself, but it costs $3/pp to enter the visitor's center. The visitor's center has a video and some displays. As with all national parks, seniors get in free with their Golden Pass. We walked down to the lake and the waterfall. It was a nice, flat trail and an easy walk. We took the shuttle back to downtown Juneau and did some shopping. I wish we had waited until Ketchikan or Sitka to buy souvenirs for the kids. There was more variety and the prices were a little better. I had wanted to go to the Alaska State Museum and the Capitol Building which has a free tour, but there was very little time before they closed.
Sitka is a tender port. What's nice is that it only has 1 ship at a time and doesn't feel as touristy as some of the other ports. The Visitor's Shuttle starts running at 9a. For $10/pp you get a ticket to get on and off all day. The shuttle makes several stops throught the town and runs every 30 min.
Our first stop was the Raptor Center. This is a nonprofit rehab facility for birds of prey. They take in sick and injured birds from all over the country, but specialize in eagles, ravens and owls. They have a vet clinic, a rehab area for birds that are about to be released to the wild, and several habitat areas for birds whose injuries do not allow them to return to the wild. It was quite interesting to see the birds up close. The grounds are also beautiful with wooded forest, trails, and Indian River running through it. It's $19/pp and I think highly worth it.
Our next stop was Totem Park or properly known as the Sitka National Historic Park. This is a national park and admission is free. There is a video and exhibits on the Tlinglit people. There are also lots of trails with recreations of totem poles. An audio tour is available via telephone. The number is posted on the totem poles. It was very scenic and educational at the same time.
We arrived at Ketchikan at 7am. We had booked a salmon fishing excursion independently. We paid $150 pp for a 3 hour trip. The captain was a bit salty, but extremely helpful. There were 6 of us on the boat. We only went out about 4 miles from the cruise ship, but that was all we needed. We caught 3 silver salmon and countless pinks. We shipped home 23 lbs. of salmon. I was reminded of the Master Card commercial: $150 for the trip, $20 for the license, $15 for the tip, $180 for processing and shipping, the experience? Priceless. We got back to the dock around 11:30 and still had time to look around Ketchikan as all aboard time was 1pm. Ketchikan is a very walkable town. We walked over to Creek Street and looked at all the salmon swimming up stream. You could see them jumping in the water, but they weren't as dense as I expected. Creek St. is full of quaint little shops, and we enjoyed window shopping. There are also several souvenier shops along the street right by the dock.
I had booked a tour of Buchart Gardens with CVS tours. It included the bus from the pier and the admission into the gardens for $55/pp. Compare this to the $85 the cruise line wanted for the same trip. The only difference between this tour and the one sponsored by the cruise line, was that we had to take a bus to downtown and then change buses at the Empress Hotel. It was very simple, and we got to look at the Inner Harbour for a few minutes while we waited for the bus.
The gardens were amazing! I'm not even sure that pictures do it justice. Because we arrived in Victoria so late in the day, we didn't really have any other choice for when to see the gardens. We were there for about 2.5-3 hours, and it was barely enough time. I could have stayed longer. We were back on the ship in plenty of time for sail away.