Our Alaska Shore Excursions for Juneau, Skagway and Victoria
Quote of the day: “Listen to your elders. Not because they’re always right, but they’re more experienced at being wrong.” Steve Richards
Now that we’ve been home a month, I’ll give you some of my thoughts on the Alaska shore excursions from our Royal Caribbean cruise. My husband and I always like to sign up for the ship sponsored excursions because we are not great adventurers on our own. We always feel like we learn so much more when we take a tour and get insights about the place we are visiting from someone else.
Another item we try to consider, is to experience something we couldn’t do other places. For example zip lining. It’s not that I wouldn’t be open to doing that, but it is something you can do almost anywhere now. You also have to realize that my husband lives for food. That means, many of our favorite activities are centered around food or wine.
Don’t forget to check out my review of the ship and it’s service too.
The first of our Alaska shore excursions was a stop in Juneau. It happened to be extremely windy when the ship was first trying to pull into the port. In fact, we ended up getting into port a couple of hours later than scheduled, so many of the excursions were cancelled. Luckily, our excursion happily pushed back the timing on everything so we could still participate.
First Part of our Excursion
On the entire trip, we really lucked out with the weather. However, since I had purchased these matching rain ponchos for all of us, we had to at least take a photo with them. If you are looking for something almost as cute, then here’s a version.
For Juneau, we chose a food tasting tour. If there’s one thing that just floats my husband’s boat, it’s trying out the local food. When we signed up for this excursion, the first part wasn’t this Alaskan Brewing Company. However, they changed it a couple of weeks before our cruise, so we just kept it as is.
Cheers to Maureen, who you met in our earlier posts where we were modeling our dinner outfits. My mom is not a drinker per se, but she did try a couple of sips. I usually am a little wimpy when it comes to beer. Give me the girly, fruity ones and I’m a happy camper. However, I was greatly surprised at how much I liked the coffee stout beer here.
Then we were taken to a cooking school to learn how to use the wonderfully fresh salmon that is available. Rob even got put to work chopping up the parsley. Let me tell you, even at home, he’s a fabulous sous chef.
And that cutting board & knife? It’s a special Alaskan Ulu thing. Here’s the knife part, and yes, we did buy one to bring home.
Second Part of our Excursion
Then our tour guide took us to a look out to see Mendenhall Glacier from afar. The glacier is in that valley between the mountains and the trees.
We also met a friend on this tour from the UK. Her husband actually took a helicopter out to the glacier to walk on it, but she wasn’t up for that. So we twisted her arm to join us in the above photo.
We all brought our rain boots for the trip. I wore mine for a couple of the days at sea also. Needless to say it only rained one day, but they are still warm. I put my orthotics in them to give me support. But I have to tell you the story about these.
I’d never had rain boots before. Denver gets very little rain, and if we do, it stops soon. So when I saw these at the thrift store last year, I vacillated over whether to buy them or not. Luckily my friend, Jean, talked me into them. Because I have worn them a ton since then. To me there are even better than snow boots. Since the sun is usually present in Denver, the snow tends to melt quickly and fast. So these are perfect. And I can add many layers of fleece socks for warmth.
The saddest part of the story? I found a crack in these when we were packing to come home. So I threw them out. And now I’m on the hunt for another pair. That’s why I included a bunch of rain boots below, because there are so many fun ones available. And don’t save them just for the rain. These boots work for snow and even sunny days.
Our second stop on our Alaskan cruise was Skagway. It’s a small town on the coast, but is know for the trail that the gold miners would take to get up to the Yukon. We took the half day tour on the train up to Frasier, Canada, and then spent the rest of the time in Skagway.
The White Pass Railway
Here we are boarding the train to experience the pass. You can see all three of us wearing our Walking Cradle sneakers. These were the perfect shoes for a day of exploring because they are so comfortable. My code, Jodie20, is still good for 20% off your purchase. And they don’t only have sneakers. Walking Cradles has wonderful pumps, boots and there are some fabulous sections even on sale. In fact, I just purchased the leopard booties.
The views were spectacular from the train. It really reminded us so much of our home state, Colorado.
And here we made it to the top of the trail that is in Canada. The mountains, the water, it was all so beautiful.
I’d also like to take a minute and point out my mom’s “jeans”. This is the pair that is reversible that she just made for our cruise. She wore them with the other side out in the post about our dinner travel outfits. You can see them in the section under “Jeans” as the pastel print pants that my mom wore with her blue blazer.
Skagway, the town
Skagway, honestly, is a tourist town. Not that that’s bad. But it’s one of those that really shuts down during the winter. We had lunch in town and walked around exploring the shops.
The Red Onion Saloon is a famous brothel from years ago. We didn’t take the tour, but it was fun to peek in.
We were very lucky on this day, as the weather was wonderful. Sure, it may look like we are bundled up, but heck, it is Alaska.
We docked in Victoria for our last stop on our cruise. We chose to take a tour of the Butchart Gardens which Nancy had been to about 30 years ago. She thought it was as spectacular this time as she remembered from before.
The story behind the Gardens is part of the draw of this place. Especially when you see the photos of how it all started. It’s funny, because I was reading another woman’s blog recently who wasn’t impressed with the gardens. Which really goes to show how we all are different.
I would tell you that this tour was the highlight of our cruise. Maybe part of that is because much of Alaska reminded us of our beautiful home state, so it wasn’t as inspiring. But these gardens? I’ve never experienced anything like them before, so it was amazing.
And it should come as no surprise to you to learn that we chose the tour that included a picnic lunch. We were able to eat outside on the Italian Garden lawn. Each of us were given a picnic basket filled with fresh food from many local places.
On the way back to the ship, our tour guide stopped to let us enjoy the views of the Empress Hotel along the waterway.
Besides the beauty of Butchart Gardens, and the picnic on the lawn, another reason we enjoyed this outing so much was the tour guide. He was fabulous at telling us so much about Victoria on the bus trip to the gardens and back.
Tips & Tricks
Deciding which if any Alaskan shore excursions is always a personal preference. Rob and I know that we always enjoy a tour more than exploring on our own. Granted, the quality of your tour depends on your tour guide. There are always good ones and bad ones. However, we always feels that booking the tour through the cruise line is usually a safer bet to get a good one.
Another reason that booking a tour through the cruise line itself is smart is in case of a change of plans on the ship’s part. For instance our excursion into Juneau. Since the boat had to dock late, luckily we were rescheduled. If our tour had been cancelled, we would have easily gotten our money refunded. It might not have been so easy if we had booked the excursion through a private company.
The other important factor is about getting back to the boat on time. If by chance something happens when you are out on an excursion, the ship won’t wait for you. Unless you are on one of their sponsored excursions.
Yet I know everyone is so different in their wants and desires when they travel. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on excursions.
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