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Juneau and Ketchikan ideas for an Alaskan


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OK here is my situation. My wonderful DH has agreed to an Alaskan cruise BUT he lived for most of his life in Alaska. Dog sledding - he owned a team, wildlife - spawning salmon, moose and beaver hung out on his property, flying over a glacier - he did it as his job ........ So any suggestions for things to do off the tourist trail? We like people, food, wine, quirky things, wine, mechanical things and wine.  I thought the Mount Roberts Tramway in Juneau would fit the bill and Dolly's House in Ketchikan but other ideas most welcome.

 

I know it seems strange but I have only seen interior Alaska and the cruise is for me, we will then do the Rocky Mountaineer and Calgary Stampede for DH (he was a cowboy too for a while).

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It will be interesting to see what kind of responses you get here.  If you’re cruising in SE Alaska you’ll find it difficult to avoid tourists. There will most likely be thousands of others getting off cruise ships in each port. The downtown areas can be packed with them.  For some flexibility, look at renting a car to get out of the downtown areas although your “wine” options will be limited.  With the “mechanical” interest, possibly the AJ Mine tour in Juneau?  Based on what you’re interested in, I’m wondering if Alaska is the best fit for you.

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Hurtigrutin does a cruise that starts in Vancouver and ends up in Nome - https://www.hurtigruten.com/destinations/alaska/inside-passage-bears-and-aleutian-islands/.  They make a bunch of stops out along the Aleutian peninsula including stops at places that nobody else stops at.  We had booked this cruise for 2021 but it was cancelled.  Maybe next year.

 

DON

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Glaciers said:

 If you’re cruising in SE Alaska you’ll find it difficult to avoid tourists. There will most likely be thousands of others getting off cruise ships in each port. The downtown areas can be packed with them.  For some flexibility, look at renting a car to get out of the downtown areas although your “wine” options will be limited.  With the “mechanical” interest, possibly the AJ Mine tour in Juneau?

 

As Glaciers has said, there's going to be lots of tourists and touristy things to do and it is going to be difficult to avoid them.

 

Food:  Juneau has several good restaurants and cafes.  If one likes crab and halibut, etc., one could be in "seafood heaven" quickly.  A combined flightseeing and a salmon meal at Taku Lodge might be of interest.  (No wine, though)  

 

Juneau:  Consider a tour of the State Capitol building; it's different than most of the State Capitol buildings in the other 49 States.  Sometimes, the Governor's Mansion is open for tours and it is located very near the Capitol.  The Alaska State Museum:  one could spend several hours there if one chose to do so.  The Alaskan Brewing Company is located in Juneau and may have tours of their brewery.  Their beers are popular and are sold in 23 States.  

 

Ketchikan:  A trip to Misty Fjords.  If your DH has not been there, or even if he has, another visit might be most enjoyable.  

 

As a suggestion, do a search and see if each of these communities has a tourist office web site.  If so, you might find some ideas there.  The State of Alaska has a tourist office, I know, and can be helpful as well. 

Edited by rkacruiser
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It sounds like he lived “off” the tourist trail so you may enjoy some tourist trail activities away from the towns and shops.  Check out the visitor information provided online for each location you are visiting.

 

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Hello I would google the refund policies of the Rocky Mountaineer.  Many  complaints.  Just be sure you are aware of their policies.  Although, some reviews state the polices changed after booking.  Not sure if that was true, decided not to explore the trip further.  

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I lived in Alaska decades ago (Girdwood) and go back as often as I can to for both cruises and land trips from Anchorage (to Seward, Homer, Girdwood, Talkeetna, etc.). And I've been in winter too for the Iditarod. One of the things I strive for is to see  "Alaskans being Alaskans". 

 

A couple of points:

 

- Southeast is very different from the interior, so be open to these differences. The native cultures are very different from the interior, so spend some time exploring those (Totem Bight State Park and Saxman Village in Ketchikan come to mind, but take the local bus if you can). I've seen lots of glaciers, but a day cruising Glacier Bay can be very special. If you make it to Skagway, you can immerse yourself in Gold Rush history. Likewise, Sitka has roots as both the Russian an Territorial capitol of Alaska, perspectives you don't get from the interior.

 

- Avoid any cruise line excursion or any "big bus" excursions from the pier. Your tour guide will likely be some college student from Iowa or such reading from a script. Your husband will be have no tolerance for explanations of Alaska from someone who has never spent a winter there. Instead, search out small tours run by year round residents. Tripadvisor and google are your friends,

 

- Wine. I love my wine too, but the selection in ports are limited. The cruise lines generally have good wine programs so enjoy it onboard. but,

 

- Beer! Alaska has lots of great craft breweries. (I was planning to hit many of them up on my cancelled cruise last year and plan to make them a focus on the cruise I have scheduled next year. I hope they survived the pandemic). The best part is talking with the proprietors. These are people living life large: making a living brewing beer in Alaska. It's hard to imagine anything better.

 

- Bars. Alaskan bars are unique and it's a great place to sit down and have a conversation with real Alaskans. My experience in Alaska is everyone has a story and it is best told with a drink. You husband will likely be welcomed and feel right at home. In Ketchikan, the Asylum comes to mind. There are lots of bars in the ports and there will be lots of tourists, you may need to search out a "dive" that may not look appealing to the tourists, but the locals will be there.

 

- Food. When cruising Alaska, I pretty much live on salmon and halibut - you can't get it any fresher. Around the cruise docks, it will likely be more expensive, but still fresher than you can get in the lower 48. Ask a real local (if you can find one) for suggestions. (I may get flamed for this, but I avoid king crab legs. Don't get me wrong, I love king crab, but the king crab season is November - January so any king crab you get will be frozen. I can get the same crab at home at Costco. The Dungeness however, should be fresh if you want crab.) 

 

- Quirky? My son in law went snorkeling in Ketchikan a few years ago and recommends it.

 

Hope this helps!

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5 hours ago, kennystwin said:

Your tour guide will likely be some college student from Iowa or such reading from a script. Your husband will be have no tolerance for explanations of Alaska from someone who has never spent a winter there. Instead, search out small tours run by year round residents.

 

Your entire post is full of excellent advice.  My Nephew has lived in Alaska for several years and works for a local tour company in Anchorage during the Summer tourist season (his regular job is a teacher in the Anchorage City Schools).  He delights in narrating the tours that he does and sharing his experiences including getting to Alaska by driving a Jeep hauling a small rental trailer in January after he was a December graduate from the University of Georgia.  

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On 3/13/2021 at 5:55 PM, Glaciers said:

It will be interesting to see what kind of responses you get here.  If you’re cruising in SE Alaska you’ll find it difficult to avoid tourists. There will most likely be thousands of others getting off cruise ships in each port. The downtown areas can be packed with them.  For some flexibility, look at renting a car to get out of the downtown areas although your “wine” options will be limited.  With the “mechanical” interest, possibly the AJ Mine tour in Juneau?  Based on what you’re interested in, I’m wondering if Alaska is the best fit for you.

Thank you for your advice I will look at the mine tour for sure. Tourist stuff is fine as are crowds of people, when you live some where you never do the tourist stuff  (the last time he was in Juneau was 30 years ago for business).  The cruise is a part of a longer trip so I get to see part of Alaska I haven't been to DH is happy so long as he is being fed and watered I just want to find stuff he will enjoy too.

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On 3/13/2021 at 9:22 PM, rkacruiser said:

 

As Glaciers has said, there's going to be lots of tourists and touristy things to do and it is going to be difficult to avoid them.

 

Food:  Juneau has several good restaurants and cafes.  If one likes crab and halibut, etc., one could be in "seafood heaven" quickly.  A combined flightseeing and a salmon meal at Taku Lodge might be of interest.  (No wine, though)  

 

Juneau:  Consider a tour of the State Capitol building; it's different than most of the State Capitol buildings in the other 49 States.  Sometimes, the Governor's Mansion is open for tours and it is located very near the Capitol.  The Alaska State Museum:  one could spend several hours there if one chose to do so.  The Alaskan Brewing Company is located in Juneau and may have tours of their brewery.  Their beers are popular and are sold in 23 States.  

 

 

Will check out the capitol building and brewing tours they sound great.

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On 3/14/2021 at 9:15 AM, milolii said:

Hello I would google the refund policies of the Rocky Mountaineer.  Many  complaints.  Just be sure you are aware of their policies.  Although, some reviews state the polices changed after booking.  Not sure if that was true, decided not to explore the trip further.  

I looked before I booked - the deposit is a few hundred and we paid by a credit card that has an excellent record of refunds, I would certainly not put down the many thousands that some people appear to have lost reading trip advisor. The trip is not until July 2022 so we have plenty of time before final payment is due.

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Kennystwin Thank you for your reply I really appreciate that you took the time to come up with so many brilliant thoughts. I had not thought of avoiding bus trips (though we usually don't do them any way) you are correct that he would hate to be told about life in Alaska by some one who hadn't spent winter there. I have been to North Pole Alaska  at Christmas but it only got down to -30 and I was told I needed to come back to experience proper winter weather.

 

 

 

 

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