Juneau & the Mendenhall Glacier

Tuesday, May 16 

Juneau Mountain

Juneau is the only US state capitol city that cannot be reached by land. It’s an island and you have to take a boat/ferry or seaplane to get there. The buildings and houses are right up against towering mountains.

Our ship arrived in port in Juneau at 1:00 pm and we got off about 2:00. Getting in later gave us an opportunity to sleep and have breakfast. When I’m on a cruise, I sometimes don’t want to get off the ship. It almost feels like we’ve paid for the cruise including the room, food, and entertainment, and I want to get as much out of it as possible.

It was a beautiful, warm day with a few clouds and little wind. 

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau AK

The temperature was nearly 70 degrees and we didn’t need to wear jackets. I was concerned about the weather since it is so early in the season. We were told that the first cruise ships of the season left the week before we did. But, except for Sitka, we had nice weather the whole way.

We hadn’t made plans to participate in an excursion in Juneau. We were just going to go ashore and look around. I don’t recommend this strategy when you’re on a cruise. You end up walking around a bunch of tourist’s shops looking at junk, and never getting to experience the place you’re visiting.

Mendenhall Glacier

When we walked to the end of the pier we ran into Heather, the Alaska specialist onboard the cruise ship. She’s really nice and was there to help passengers decide what to do. She gives talks once or twice a day on the various towns we are visiting and the local wildlife. She was born and raised

Sea Plane landing in Juneau

in Juneau. She asked us what we wanted to do during our time in Juneau and we told her we wanted to see the Mendenhall Glacier. So she directed us to one of the tour companies on the dock and we signed up.

We took a school bus up to the glacier. It is beautiful! The leading edge – that runs to the water – is a beautiful shade of blue. The color comes from the complex crystal formations in the new ice. As the ice ages, the crystals change and the ice turns white like we expect to see it. The water along the glacier was also beautiful. The blue shade comes from the new ice with those complex crystals breaking off and falling into the bay.

Tomorrow we are at sea as we pass through the Hubbard glacier. Then we stop in Sitka.