Juneau Whales, Bears and Glaciers Excursion Reviews
On Day 3, Juneau, we took the Whale and Wildlife Quest and Mendenhall Glacier combo. This is the same tour offered by Allen Tours, but if you book it through the cruise, you know you'll get back on time. We (literally and figuratively) saw TONS of humpbacks on this tour, and one blowing water just next to our boat! None breached the water or did bubble feeding, but we saw them all dive with the tail fluke in the air. We also saw sea lions, seals, and an otter swimming together. We also saw a bald eagle nearby. Lots of sea jellies. Donut munchkins and hot drinks are served free on board, as well as binoculars and route map.
This tour would have gotten 5+ stars if it weren't for the Mendenhall portion. I've read and heard reports of bear sightings along the viewing areas at Mendenhall Glacier but our tour was way too short to handle this. The Mendenhall Glacier portion was 45 minutes and not enough time to explore the glacier or even get to Nugget Falls (1 mile away) and back. Our tour bus and another left people behind because they didn't make it back to the bus in time. To see the Glacier properly, I advise taking a shuttle from the pier for $10/pp/way, so you can go on a longer glacier excursion by yourself. Another option is to book the above combo tour, but purchase the extra return shuttle ticket from the dock before you get on the first departure tour bus, allowing you the option to return from the Glacier at your leisure. The cruise ship doesn't depart until 8:30 pm, so there really is so much time to explore Juneau and the Glacier that there is no reason the excursion had to rush us back before 3. At the Glacier Visitor Center, there were some excellent interpretive exhibits and the chance to become a Junior Ranger.
The whale watching + was a highlight of the cruise. Ideally we could have spent another half hour at Mendenhall as it was a little rushed but we loved the excursion.
We did a combo tour and evening whale watch,Loved both
No bears around in September. Please warn passengers that they will be taking a risk, spending big bucks to see no bears.
Whales did show up! Flight-seeing of glaciers was great!
We arrived on schedule at 1:00, to partly cloudy skies. It wasn’t too cold and it wasn’t raining, so I thought it was just great for Alaska in September.! We had booked a tour with Juneau Whale Watch on-line, and it was kind of a mixed bag. The whale-watch part was excellent and the boat was very comfortable, but I didn’t think their organization was very good AT ALL and we definitely got short-changed on the Mendenhall part of the tour. We didn’t get to the glacier until about 5:15, and we were told the latest bus we could get back to the ship was at 6:00. We really didn’t have any time to walk around or go to the visitor’s center. Jim and I were both shocked at how much the glacier has receded since we were there in 2000.
Hike to Mendenhall Glacier. Good information, not much to see on the hike. Some salmon, good view of the glacier. Whale watching was not good. I know the operators have no control over that, but it is disappointing to send so much money and have so few sightings.
Our boat captain was knowledgable,witty and made sure we had visions of what we came for.
We booked the combo wildlife, whales and glacier. In truth, it's hard to get it all in in one day. One of the events will fall a little slack - and for us it was the glacier. It's amazingly beautiful, but we were only able to see it for an hour or so. The whale tour was a blast. If you can, book a small boat. Ours wasn't huge, but held 40 people. People get in the way and the boat can't get as close. Smaller boats can accommodate a small group and be right up close.