FIVE FABULOUS SHORE EXCURSIONS
Many cruises to Alaska are seven-day Inside Passage round trips from Vancouver or Seattle, calling at Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway, as well as scenic cruising in Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm Fjord. Longer trips may go to Whittier – near Anchorage – taking in College Fjord with its many glaciers. Ketchikan – Take a 25-minute floatplane ride over forests to Neets Bay in Tongass National Forest. A rainforest bushwalk ends at Neets Bay Creek, where black bears gather to dine on large salmon they’ve swiped out of the water as they swim upstream to spawn.
Ketchikan – On a half-day tour, take a guided walk through the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary on an elevated boardwalk for a chance to see salmon, black bears and bald eagles. See a historic sawmill and observe a master indigenous totem pole carver at work. Then head to the elegant George Inlet Lodge for a feast of fresh Dungeness crab followed by a raucous crab shell stacking competition.
Skagway – At the Red Onion Saloon, costumed “madams” greet guests with a garter and a gold miner’s breakfast of scrambled eggs with the works. Delight in provocative tales of Klondike Kate, Diamond Tooth Lil and other “soiled doves” in the gold rush bordello. Journey up the Klondike Highway to spectacular scenery at the Yukon Suspension Bridge.
Skagway – Take the wheelchairfriendly White Pass Scenic Railway from the dock for a narrated 65km round trip on the historic narrow-gauge railroad. The White Pass and Yukon Route was built against enormous odds through rugged terrain from 1898–1900, during the Klondike Gold Rush, and now is an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, an honour shared with the Eiffel Tower, the Panama Canal and the Statue of Liberty. The route passes Bridal Veil Falls, Inspiration Point and Dead Horse Gulch, with views of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls and the original Klondike Trail.
Juneau – Drive to view the huge Mendenhall Glacier, fed from an ice field high above Juneau in Tongass National Park. Walk the trails, keeping an eye out for wildlife including beavers, eagles, salmon, porcupines and black bears. Then take a harbour cruise to view humpback whales as well as killer whales, sea lions, Dall’s porpoises, harbour seals and sea birds.