We had already docked in Juneau by the time we all woke up and it was pouring rain, so we made sure to grab our raincoats and umbrellas before heading to the Walt Disney Theatre to meet up for our excursion – Whale Watch and Mendenhall Glacier.
A bus was waiting to take us over to Auke Bay where we boarded a boat for the whale watching. The boat is pretty good sized – with 2 stories and enough room for maybe 100 – 150 people. There were 3 bathrooms onboard as well as a galley that served complimentary hot chocolate, coffee and donut holes as well as provided other snack options for purchase. I’ve heard some people complain about the size of these boats, because they can’t get as close to the whales as some of the smaller vessels, but we had no issues seeing the whales and a few came quite close to the boat, so I don’t feel like we missed out. The boat has a basic route it takes but the captain is in radio contact with other boats so will go wherever whales have been spotted. While we were heading to our first viewing spot, a naturalist talked about the animals we’d see as well as provided information about the surrounding area. We ended up seeing quite a few whales – 10 in all, including a baby and his mom, which was pretty neat. We also saw eagles, sea lions and seals.
We were out on the water for about 2 hours and then headed back into dock where our bus was waiting to take us over to Mendenhall Glacier.
In addition to the visitor’s center, the glacier area has a viewing platform that’s a quick 5 minute walk away as well as a longer hiking trail that will take you much closer to the glacier and waterfall that’s right next to it. The round trip estimate for the longer trail was 45 minutes and since we only had an hour to spend, we weren’t able to take that hike, although we did walk down the path a little bit. Both the glacier and surrounding area were beautiful.
After our visit to the glacier, the bus took us back to the ship where we boarded and headed to Parrot Cay for lunch. The ship set sail just a few minutes after we returned for our excursion, so we watched the Coast Guard escort us out of the bay as we ate lunch.
We all rested a little bit in the afternoon and Colorado Boy and I ran into an old friend when we went up to get a snack.
It was Pirate night, and the kids REALLY wanted to get their picture taken with Jack Sparrow, so we all got dressed up in our pirate garb and headed down to meet the Captain.
We scheduled our Palo dinner for this evening, so we did not go to the show, which was Toy Story The Musical. Instead, we dropped the kids off at the kids’ club and made our way up to Palo. Once again, our server was Hristo and he took excellent care of us. Unlike brunch, dinner is not a buffet – it’s all sitdown table service off the menu but you can order as many items as you want, so it almost feels like a buffet! For our appetizers, I ordered the grilled shrimp, Colorado Dad ordered the calamari and then Hristo recommended the mushroom polenta to share. I was a little skeptical of that one when it came out, but it was very good, as were the other items.
For our main course, I ordered the tuna, Colorado Dad ordered the lamb shank and then we both shared an order of the chianti-braised beef ravioli, which is my absolute favorite. I didn’t get a pic of the ravioli, but here are the other two.
For dessert, it was time for the famous Palo chocolate souffle. No pictures of this one either, because I dove into it immediately Hristo also recommended we try other desserts as well, so I got the almond cake and Colorado Dad got the apple crostata. Both were good, but the souffle is still number 1 for me!
We were stuffed by the time we left Palo’s, but it was almost time for the pirate party, so we figured we’d be able to burn off a few of those calories by joining in the dancing.
For those of you who have cruised before, you’ll know that the Pirates IN the Caribbean party is one of the highlights – fireworks at sea, swashbuckling pirates, dancing, plus Mickey saving the day – what more could you want? Well, I have to say that on the Alaskan cruises, it’s not nearly as exciting.
Because of noise restrictions in Alaska, fireworks are not allowed and they also do the whole show inside. It’s still the same show but it just doesn’t have quite the same impact. I’m not sure if it’s a smaller space, but it definitely FEELS smaller and the views aren’t quite as good.
Despite the differences, it is a fun party and the kids had fun dancing and bouncing around. By the end of the evening, our Pirate Princess was pretty exhausted
So we called it a night and headed back to our room where we found this guy “monkeying around”
Up next: Blue skies, plaid shirts and the smell of fresh cut wood
Did you miss any of our previous destinations? You can get to all of the Cruisin’ North to Alaska posts right here!