Stepping off the cruise ship we were greeted with cool wind in our hair, raindrops on our noses and the sight of icefields in the distance. We had landed in Juneau and were ready to start exploring.
Alaska is well known for Eco tourism adventures, so when we teamed up with Travel Juneau and got the opportunity from Juneau Tours to experience whale watching and glacier exploring, we jumped at the chance. We started our tour with a two-hour whale watching excursion and then were transported to the self guided glacier exploration portion of our trip.
Here are just a few things we loved about our tour:
Once in port and off our Disney Cruise ship, we were happily greeted by Juneau Tours representatives. They got us all checked in and ready to be transported to where our tour would begin. We hopped aboard a shuttle bus and were taken to a harbour 20 minutes north of downtown Juneau. Leaving from outside the very busy main harbour allowed our tour to cruise quieter waters, maximizing our chance of viewing whales.
We boarded our boat, the Atlin, a brand-new ship recently added to their fleet. The main level of the boat featured a heated comfortable seating area, large windows, a bathroom and an outside viewing area at the front of the boat. The outside viewing deck on the second floor allowed for an incredible 360-degree view, perfect for epic whale watching!
We were so excited to learn that Juneau Tours and Whale Watch employs naturalists to be guides for their tours. They took the time to explain the area we were in and highlight the local points of interest as we cruised out of the harbour. During our tour, they explained about the types of whales we would be seeing (Humpbacks!), what to look for and their behaviours. Our daughter loved learning how to look for the blow of “whale snot” and knowing that the beautiful tail flukes would be seen soon after.
Code of Conduct
Whale watching is one of the main tourist activities in Alaska. Thankfully there is a code of conduct that is followed by tour operators. Juneau Whale Watch takes this very seriously and knows that keeping 100 yards away from the whales and going slowing and cutting the motors if one happens to come too close, is going to have the least amount of negative impact on the whales. Protecting the whales and their habitats are priority for this company.
Self-Guided Glacier Tour
Once the whale watch portion of our tour was over, we hopped aboard our shuttle bus and were taken on a short drive to the Mendenhall Glacier, located in the Tongass National Forest. This glacier is one of the easiest accessible glaciers in Alaska, as you don’t need a boat to get an up close view. The shuttle bus dropped us off right outside the Visitor Centre and we were so impressed with what it had to offer. Telescopes to view the glacier, interactive displays, a Junior Ranger program for kids and an actual piece of 200 year old ice that had come off the glacier to touch and investigate! Outside the centre was the starting point for a variety of hiking trails that took you to glacier viewing areas, a gorgeous waterfall and onto a raised boardwalk above salmon spawning habitat.
Deep Alaskan Roots
Juneau Tours and Whale Watch is in it’s 15th year of operation and is Alaskan owned and operated. From sales agents, to shuttle bus drivers, to dock hands, to boat captains and naturalists, employing locals maintains that this family operation is focused on providing the best possible customer experience. Even the souvenir shirts they offer were designed, made and printed in Alaska. This company takes pride in their Alaskan background.
The natural raw beauty of the landscapes and wildlife of Juneau truly takes your breath away. Juneau Tours made sure that during our short time to visit, we were able to experience some of the key points of interest that Juneau has to offer. This was one of the most spectacular places we have ever visited and wish we had more time to explore (darn cruise ship schedules!)…guess that just means we have to plan a trip back!
Is this a sponsored post?: Yes, however this experience and my thoughts are my own!