Disney Wonder: Best of Juneau Excursion – Plus Whales
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The fifth day of the cruise we were ready to see some whales!
Before we were even able to get off of the ship, we ran into Mickey and Minnie Mouse in the hallway! Even though there are tons of planned character events, my family opted out of participating in any of these activities due to lines and just the time allotted to see the characters.
However, I did want to see Mickey and Minnie in their Alaskan Gear and was so excited that I ran into them in the hallway on the way to our excursion. Granted, they do not stop to take photos so if you run into a character on the ship, be quick with your photos! I was able to snap a few in the hallway before they had to disappear to their next appearance.
Best Of Juneau (JU46)
After the awkwardness of the day before Best of Skagway experience, I was hoping that the Best of Juneau would be better.
We had a whole day planned to for Whale Watching and seeing Mendenhall Glacier.
As soon as we got off of the Disney Wonder, we boarded a bus to travel to Auke Bay. Our tour guide was a transplanted local and gave us all sorts of knowledge about the history of Juneau and just some interesting information about the two and economy. She pointed out the old Wal-Mart that pulled out of June as well as describing how almost everything they get come from Amazon, even though the 2-day shipping doesn’t apply to them.
After a half an hour drive, we arrived at Auke Bay where we got on a tour boat by Allen Marine Tours.
There were quite a few Disney Cruise guests on our boat, even though it wasn’t 100% full you could tell that this was a popular tour. A head of us we had a two and a half hour cruise to find whales!
The good thing about booking this cruise with Allen Marine tours is they guarantee a whale sighting or they will give each person $100. With those odds, it is almost guaranteed that the tour group would easily find a whale.
The first hour or so, we rode all over the bay looking for whales. Unfortunately, we didn’t find much until a blow hole was spotted far away. Our tour boat and a few others raced to the other side to see if we could catch up with the whale. While over there, we waited for a while to see if the Humpback Whale would show herself again.
Well, she decided that it was time to take a nap. When Whales go to sleep, half of their brain shut off and the whale does this weird bobbing up and down swimming maneuver. Of course, the whale is a mammal, and they need to remember to breathe, which is when they bob back up to the surface to breathe before going back into the water. Humpback Whales usually sleep for about twenty minutes at a time for only two to two and a half hours a day.
Even though seeing a whale sleep is incredibly rare to find in nature, the tourists in the group wanted to see some whale tails!
Our captain continued to see if we could get away from the crowd and see if we could go track down another Whale.
Our captain tracked down another whale, and everyone was so excited to see this beauty. She showed herself to one side of the boat and then went under water.
The crazy thing about Humpbacks is they can show themselves in one place, and they might not pop up back again for a while and be halfway across the Bay! Finding and tracking the whales is a little difficult in May because not all the whales are back from migrating from Hawaii.
As y’all remember, my camera broke on the third day of the cruise, so all I had was my go-pro to hope to film this whale sighting. I was on the same side of the entire crowd filming with my go-pro wondering when this whale would pop up again. It was starting to rain, so I go out of the crowd to go inside to put my second rain jacket on. At the last minute, I decided to walk over to the other side of the boat to check out what was going on over. Not even 10 seconds later there was a whale’s blowhole, and I scream!
A whale popped out of the water!
Watching the whale swim in the water was one of the best things ever! She popped out of the water and allowed all of us to watch her. After a few more blow holes and swims, she decided to show bid us good by and show us her tail. It was time for her to dive down underwater for a while and time for us to eat lunch.
Part of the whale watching tour was to go to Orca Point Lodge on Colt Island to enjoy a feast. Even though we were allotted one hour on the island, that hour went by so quickly, and we didn’t walk the island too much. The beauty of this area was breathtaking, and I wish we stayed here longer.
Back on the boat, we cruised through Auke Bay where we saw sea lions, bald eagles, and many other sea birds.
Once we got back onto the bus, we went to see Mendenhall Glacier.
Our next stop was to see another Glacier, hey it’s Alaska after all.
Mendenhall Glacier is a part of the Tongass National Forrest and is one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen in my life.
I was so excited to hear that at least one trail is handicap accessible. We had mom’s transport chair and wanted to go for a ‘hike.’ We had two options, go on the Photo Point Trail which was fully accessible or the Nugget Falls Trail which was mostly paved but would be more difficult.
We decided we would take our hike on the Photo Point Trail. The walk up was easy, there were a few areas that had a steam grade, but nothing the Lindsly girls could not handle. Once we got to the top of the trail, there was this pleasant seating area, and we all sat down to enjoy the scenes.
While sitting here, we talked with a couple of the other people from different cruise ships about where they were going, and where they were coming from. We met a couple who’s vacation had just started, and we told them that ours was coming to an end. We exchanged stories about the different ports we had all been to while watching the glacier. This glacier didn’t have any calving, like Endicott, so I wonder if the cruise ships cause further erosion of the glaciers.
After enjoying our time by the glacier, we went to the visitor center. We took the elevator to the visitor center because it seemed easier to do than the ramp.
In the visitor center, we learned that there is a high chance to see bears in this area, so hikers need to be very careful where they are wandering. We also learned that even though Alaska’s Glaciers are receding, there is one glacier that is growing – Hubbard Glacier.
After thoroughly exploring the visitor center we gathered and just admired the beauty of Alaska and the great outdoors. It is not very common for us Southerners to just sit outside in the heat and admire the beauty – so this was a rare treat for us.
What would I do differently?
I enjoyed this excursion, but if I did do anything differently, it would be to spend additional time at Mendenhall Glacier. As much as I enjoyed the food that was a part of the Whale Trip, I would have liked to walk closer to the waterfall that was close to the Glacier.
Also, we didn’t have any time to explore downtown. I think this is because we spent too much time on the whale watching – but that is nothing I can complain of! I would love to come back to Juneau and explore their downtown and also eat at Tracy’s King Crab Shack. Phapakorn, our assistant server, was so excited to have a few hours off in Juneau because he was going to eat all of the crab legs at Tracy’s.
Back on the Cruise Ship
After Mendenhall Glacier, we were well over our allotted time for the excursion and was cutting it close to the All Aboard time. Many guests asked for a downtown drop off, but we didn’t want to get left behind and decided to stay on the boat so we could get ready for our dinner at Palo.
We decided to skip Frozen: A Musical because we were tired and didn’t want to rush through our Palo Dinner for a play we were not interested in. We tried to watch it on our TV, but that didn’t work out for us. Even though there is an option of watching the live Broadway shows on television, I feel as if the quality is lost. I am not sure if this was a newer cast, but everything felt forced and awkward when it came to the acting.
There were also some bizarre puppets that I did not think needed to be in the show. However, if you want to watch the show from your room, you have four different options to view.
Have you ever gone whale watching or seen a glacier?
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