1. Disney Wonder to Alaska: Day Five – Juneau

    Today was another early start as we had already docked in Juneau when we woke up. A quick look from the verandah showed that it was a grey and cloudy morning.

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    After getting ready, we headed to Triton’s for breakfast which compared to Beach Blanket Buffet the day before was an oasis of calm. We were sat at a table to ourselves immediately and quickly offered tea and coffee which was gratefully received. I ordered croissants as well as some hashbrowns, tomatoes and mushrooms to eat.

    After heading back to our stateroom to collect our coats and bags for the day, we headed down to Deck 1 Forward (which again was clearly signposted everywhere) to disembark.

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    The Disney Wonder usually uses the AJ Dock in Juneau which is located the furthest distance from the town. However there are buses provided that take you on a short drive from the ship and drop you off next to the other docks in the town. The buses are free of charge for Disney Cruise Line passengers however I have read online that there is a charge for passengers from some other cruise lines.

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    The bus ride only took a few minutes (if that) and it dropped us by the entrance to the Mount Roberts Tramway. As soon as we got off the bus, there are many booths in front of you offering tours of Juneau. As we were heading straight out to the Mendenhall Glacier, I saw the desk that sold tickets for the blue MGT Glacier Express bus and bought return tickets for us.

    You can read about the MGT Glacier Express Bus in this blog post.

    We had about ten minutes to wait until the next bus departed so we took some photos of the area and of a misty Mount Roberts – I don’t know why people were already going up as you couldn’t even see halfway up! There was only a few people waiting for the bus so when it turned up there wasn’t any problem getting on.

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    The drive to the Mendenhall Glacier took about twenty minutes and the driver provided a running commentary for us the whole way. When you arrive, the bus drops you off just across the road from the Visitor Center. At Mendenhall you do not have to pay to see the Glacier or walk to the photo points and to Nugget falls so you can visit with only having to pay for the bus fare there and back. There is however a charge to enter the Visitor Center – there were lots of people inside however we did not bother.

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    I did find out from listening to some other people on the ship later that day as we left Juneau was that they had paid $45 for the organised tour to Mendenhall Glacier and from getting off the bus, they were given twenty minutes there before they had to leave. This meant that they were unable to go anywhere other than the first photo point (which is not that great) as they just didn’t have the time. They couldn’t believe it when we told them they could have done their own tour independently and for less than half the price! Another case in the “Don’t Do Organised Tours” file! You can save so much time, stress and money by just doing a litte research online before you go. In comparsion, we each paid $16 return for the blue MGT Glacier Express Bus on the day and had as much time as we wanted to explore – seems a no-brainer when you think about it.

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    To walk straight to Nugget Falls without stopping takes approximately 15-20 minutes however we were constantly stopping to take photos. There were many signs to say that bears had been spotted but again we didn’t see any.

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    These photos were taken from the beach on the way to Nugget Falls – one of the many places we stopped along the trail.

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    After taking many photos from the beach, we continued on to Nugget Falls. Once there we were as close to Mendenhall Glacier as what we were going to get that day without hiking which neither of us wanted to do. The mist from the falls also ensured that this was the only time that day that it was freezing so I was glad I had packed my scarf and my gloves.

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    The colours of the Mendenhall Glacier close up were absolutely beautiful.

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    After taking plenty of photos, we noticed some blue sky in the distance towards Juneau itself and hoped that this was a good sign to come. We walked back and thankfully a bus was just arriving as we got to the bus stop which meant we didn’t have to wait. Even though there were quite a few people waiting, there was room for everyone on the bus and no one was left behind.

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    On the drive back to Juneau, it became immediately apparent how much better the weather was getting. By the time we arrived the mist had cleared, the sun was out and we had beautiful blue skies! The Holland America Volendam had since arrived in Juneau on the dock right by the entrance to the Mount Roberts Tramway but had not yet been cleared to disembark so the area was was incredibly quiet. We decided to take advantage of no crowds and the clear blue skies by heading up Mount Roberts as soon as possible.

    The tickets were approximately $30 each and as there was no line, we were able to head straight to the top. One thing that I did like was that the ticket was valid all day so after getting a hand stamp, you could return for as many trips up and down on the tramway as you liked. The journey to the top took a couple of minutes and we even saw eagles sitting in the trees as we passed them!

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    Once at the top the views of Juneau, Douglas Island and the Gastineau Channel were amazing and many photos were taken. After our grey and misty arrival in Juneau that morning, I couldn’t believe how wonderful the views now were.

    We also went to the Juneau Raptor Center to see Lady Baltimore who is a bald eagle who was rescued from Douglas Island after being shot. As she is blind in one eye and has an injured wing, she is unable to survive in the wild so she now lives at the top of Mount Roberts.

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    As it was early June, all of the hiking trails at the top of Mount Roberts were still covered in snow so we were unable to walk any further. After a visit to the gift shop, we headed back down Mount Roberts.

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    We were both starving by now so our first stop after heading back down the mountain was Tracy’s King Crab Shack for lunch. It wasn’t too busy so thankfully we didn’t have to wait long to order and we only waited a few minutes after sitting down for our food to be brought out. I would recommend this place to anyone. The crab cakes were to die for – they were incredible.

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    It was now time to start exploring Juneau by foot. The town is small so it doesn’t take long to walk anywhere. I had printed a map off the internet before we left home, but it wasn’t needed. We also found our first free wifi since leaving Vancouver whilst walking around the streets in Juneau – that was a very welcome find! After a quick Facebook update to let everyone at home know how the holiday was going, we continued exploring.

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    This is the statue of Patsy-Ann who back in the 1930’s was a dog who would somehow always know when a ship would be arriving in Juneau and who would wait on the dock for it so much so that the mayor at that time called her the “Official Greeter of Juneau, Alaska.”

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    Our final stop of the day was the Red Dog Saloon for a quick drink – for some silly reason I had always wanted to have a drink in a bar that had swinging doors at the entrance and sawdust on the floor. There was a great atmosphere inside helped by a brilliant piano player and some bizarre decor and we even got a table straight away too.

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    The menu in the Red Dog Saloon is fantastic – where else can you get a drink called a “Duck Fart”, a glass of “Cheap Shit”, “Expensive Shit” or “Really Expensive Shit”?! I ordered the Glacier Margarita which was very blue and incredibly delicious and we also got the potato skins to share.

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    It was about 3pm at this point and as we were due to leave Juneau at 4.30pm we decided to head back to the ship. As it was such a beautiful day, we decided to walk back rather than get the free shuttle bus. The walk took us about 15 minutes and it was clearly signposted so you could not get lost – you just had to walk towards your ship! When we went to board we had to wait whilst the man in front of us had a childish hissy fit as he couldn’t understand why security wanted to see the Key to the World cards for everyone in the group with him and wouldn’t accept just his. Idiot.

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    Once back on board we grabbed a drink and sat on our verandah whilst watching everyone rushing back to the ship. I really need to do a Caribbean cruise at some point as I’ve heard that the “Running of the Drunks” is some of the best entertainment there is – and the You Tube videos out there of it are hysterical.

    Once everyone was back on board, I headed up to Deck 10 to watch sailaway. Once again, even though it was the most beautiful weather outside, there was no one to be seen. This was the only port in Alaska where they did not blast the horn when leaving the dock. The views really were amazing as we sailed along the Gastineau Channel.

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    The lobby atrium of the Wonder had already been decorated for the Pixar Pals Party which was taking place that evening. The restaurants were also offering the Toy Story Menu – I’m sad I didn’t get to try the menu as it had some of my favourite foods listed on there but we had dinner booked in Palo and a birthday (not mine) to celebrate instead which we were both really looking forward to. The show that night in the Walt Disney Theatre was Toy Story: The Musical which we did not see as we just wanted to chill for a few hours.

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    After sailaway we headed to the Quiet Cove pool for a swim and to relax. I loved this pool area and the fact that it was for adults only ensured that it was peaceful and quiet. The pool was heated so it was like swimming in a bath – it was just hard to get out of as you really felt the cool Alaskan air after being in there. Thankfully there were lots of towels and blankets available. We also spent the next hour just sitting in the hot tub next to the pool just watching the world pass by.

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    After our pool time, we got ready for the evening as our dinner reservation at Palo was at 8.30pm. After arriving in Palo, we were greeted by the same server who had looked after us for brunch a few days beforehand (I still am annoyed that I can’t remember his name) and shown to our table. We were given our menus and bought a basket of freshly baked bread.

    For tonight’s cocktail I decided to order the Balsamic Grande based on the fact that I love strawberries and I love balsamic vinegar. Our server advised me that it wasn’t a very popular drink and that many people send it back as they don’t like it and was I sure that I wanted it. I stuck to my decision and it was so good. I can see why some people might not like it as it is a very strange combination for a cocktail but I absolutely loved it. I even got them to write out the recipe for me so I could try and make it at home!

    Our server brought the antipasti trolley over and was very careful to make up two plates for us – one with meat and one without. It didn’t bother me as I would have happily eaten the non-meat items off the plate that had the meat on but it was a nice gesture on his behalf.

    For my starter I ordered the Grilled Portobello Mushroom and Polenta. This will go down in history as one of the best plates of food I have ever eaten. Every bite was so damn mouthwateringly good. I could eat that dish every day and never get bored of it! Ah memories. We were also given a lemon sorbet palate cleanser before our main course arrived.

    For my main course I ordered the Lobster and Marscapone Ravioli and we had the Gnocchi di Patate con Gorgonzola e Asparagi to share. Again both dishes were absolutely delicious.

    I had the Tiramisu for dessert but I’m reliably informed that the famous Palo Chocolate Soufflé is as every bit as good as everyone says it is! Our meal was finished with a complimentary after-dinner drink which was a shot of frozen Limoncello, Prosecco and Vodka. Once again our time in Palo had been perfect – it was definitely worth every penny of the $20 upcharge and the early wake up to originally make the reservation three months beforehand.

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    After paying our bill, we had some photos taken together before heading straight out onto an empty Deck 10 for a quiet evening stroll. We continued walking around the ship and arrived in the lobby just as the late Pixar Pals Party was finishing – Sully and Mike Wazowski walked past us on the stairs near Triton’s.

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    And awaiting for us back in our stateroom was our towel animal of the day which was…

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    As with most nights on the cruise, I fell straight asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Unfortunately we were both woken suddenly about 2am when a very loud obnoxious woman was hitting the door opposite us in the corridor and screaming that their children were making noise and she couldn’t sleep! Well we didn’t hear any noise at all from this other room but this woman pretty much woke up every stateroom nearby. After opening our door and giving the obligatory “you’ve woken me up” stare at her, I went back to bed. Thankfully it didn’t take long to get back to sleep and at least we could have a lazy morning the next day as we were not due to dock in Ketchikan until lunchtime.

    3 thoughts on “Disney Wonder to Alaska: Day Five – Juneau

    1. Maria

      I have enjoy so much this post and the whole review of your cruise!
      I am doing my research for my cruise next year, can’t wait!
      Thank you for all the tips 🙂

      Reply

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