Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Legendary Trip North to Alaska- Juneau, AK

10 Year Anniversary Cruise 2016- Carnival Legend

The Last Great Race
Juneau, AK
Saturday, June 25, 2016

Despite the typical all-day, constant rain Juneau did not disappoint. This quaint little town was beautiful and mysterious. The spirited huskies whisked us through the forest as we took in the breathtaking scenery. 

Once again the Alaskan daylight came shining through around 3:30AM but luckily we did not get up until nearly 6:30AM. (Once again, keep this in mind when staying in a balcony cabin) After a good night's sleep we woke up to dreary and rainy weather. It was raining consistently the entire time we were getting ready yet it was so beautiful that I didn't even care that I was getting wet... Can you say "BAD HAIR DAY"? 
We could already tell Juneau was a gorgeous city! 

The rain and the mist made for a true Alaskan day!

Getting ready... There is NEVER a dull moment with Chris!

The Carnival Legend was in port at Juneau from 7AM to 3PM so once again, we arrived to the Lido buffet omelet station in plenty of time anticipating crowds. Toward the back of the Lido area is PIRATE PIZZA and during the breakfast hours they prepare customized omelets and special breakfast pizzas. We learned about this on this day and it was a real hidden gem. We hardly ever had to wait in line. 

We had cancelled our whale-watching tour through a private company the day before in Skagway and rescheduled to do a tour through Carnival called "Sled Dog and Musher Camp Discovery". We cancelled because we had already seen 34 humpback whales from our balcony so we thought the $135/ per person price tag was a little high (since we saw them for free) and saved that money and put it towards the new Carnival excursion. We went through Viator and let me just say they were very kind and understanding and we got that money back within 8 hours. The Sled Dog excursion was $139/ per person and lasted 3 hours. 

We got off the ship at 7:40AM after we received clearance from customs. There was a line of about 80-100 people at that time. We made our way down the pier to the covered waiting area as the rain had started to pick up. Our excursion was supposed to begin at 8AM and around 7:55AM we saw a gorgeous Alaskan husky walk up to the pavilion. We followed him to our tour bus. 
Alaska's Capital City! 

Our chauffeur for the tour! 

We're READY for another AWESOME Alaskan day! 

We boarded the bus and spoke to an awesome bus driver who hailed form Idaho who was working with Holland American Cruise Line as a hired bus driver for the summer cruise season. Her and her husband get paid for that work and then after 400 hours (10 weeks) they each received a FREE cruise anywhere in the world. Boy, let me tell you... Chris and my ears really perked up! We are going to look into this as our kids leave the house! 

Juneau, Alaska is one of 33 towns in Southeast Alaska and only 3 of those have roads in and out. Juneau was not one of these 3 and is only accessible by air or boat. There is an interesting story about how Juneau got it's name. It is too long to explain on this thread but it is worth reading up on if you are into that type of thing. We traveled through the town of Juneau, past the state capital building and the governors mansion to the only bridge in Juneau across to Douglas island. 

The Governor's mansion where Sarah Palin used to live. 

The Capital building which is being completely overhauled and renovated currently. 

We traveled about 10 minutes to our musher camp where we got out of the bus and immediately got into our "sled" (golf cart) to go for a ride with the sled dogs. 

The Musher Camp area. 

When we first pulled up and they were acting like this I was a little skeptic!

Our 1st sites of the sled dogs. 

We're in the "Sled" and ready to go! 

These dogs can really run! We were going 17+ miles per hour! 

This was "Queen" the lead dog! 

This was towards the end... They were TIRED! 

This was AWESOME as there were only 16 70-80 pound dogs pulling 4 adults (who've been on a cruise mind you), 2 kids a large golf cart and their musher through the rough and muddy wilderness for nearly a mile. This was an awesome ride and we enjoyed it very much. These dogs pulled us for about 3/4 mile before stopping to let them rest and get pictures then they finished the 1 mile journey back to camp. 

Going for a sled ride! 


These poor dogs... The were muddy and dirty but LOVED pulling us around! 

I would be tired too! 

After the ride we went to a covered area to learn about the dogs and their races. It was here that we learned that "Alaskan husky" is just a breed of mut basically and not a full bred dog. We met Lira, a special sled dog, and her musher who told us all about the Iditarod and several other races in Alaska. 
The Iditarod and Yukon Quest race maps! 

I am ready to win the race... Yeah, right! I wouldn't last a minute! 

Finally we went over to the puppy area and got to see 3 different liters of puppies. The 1st liter was about 2 months old and they were HYPER! They even had a giant hamster wheel for them to play on! 

We need one of these for Abbey and Oxford! 

This was a very unique piece of equipment for these dogs! 

The 2nd liter was just 2 weeks old and they were absolutely gorgeous. This liter had 9 puppies so we each got to hold one for several minutes. They were just adorable. 

This was just priceless!

I wanted to take him home! 

We just loved them all so much... so tiny! 

Then we finished the puppy tour with a liter that was nearly 1 month old. This liter only had 4 puppies so we had to share but they were still adorable and so playful. In fact, one even bit Chris on the face! 

This mama was not excited about giving up her pups!

It's crazy to think that this liter is only 14 days older but 2x in size and so much more playful! I loved these! 

This was my favorite... This puppy just wanted to lick and lick and lick! 

This was a great excursion and Chris and I loved it. I know this would especially be a hit with kids. I do think it was a little overpriced at $139/ adult and $89/ child but I am glad we chose to cancel and do this excursion as I feel we were able to get yet another "gem" of Alaska. 

Once we got back to town we explored a little and then found some Alaskan Fudge. This was so good and really made us hungry. We wandered aimlessly for a little while before landing at Tracy's King Crab Shack in downtown Juneau. I had read about this place so I was excited to try their "KING" crab legs. We each ordered a "special" which included crab bisque, 4 mini crab cakes, rolls and an 18"+ king crab leg priced at $34.99/ each. This was the best crab legs I have ever had and you could tell it was caught that day (which it was). This was local seafood at its best. If you are going to Juneau and have time, be sure to stop at Tracy's but be warned they sell out fast! We got there at 11:30AM and while we were eating they sold out of King Crab legs

The city and streets of Juneau. 

2474 miles to TEXAS... wow that is FAR!

Tracy's King Crab Shack looks like another souvenir shop but in the back in the crabby goodness! 

This was the "Special" and it was AMAZING! 

Look at the MEAT inside this crab leg... My mouth is watering! 

Tracy's Crab Shack taken from our balcony! 

We then continued to wander around town looking for more souvenirs before stopping at the visitors center to ask about the Mendenhall Glacier but unfortunately, we were too late to get on the shuttle to the glacier and then make it back to our ship on time. Since we were able to see the Dawes glacier a few days prior we felt like we had already seen that aspect of Alaska but this glacier will be on our list for "next time" for sure! 

These cruise ships were also in port in Juneau... I LOVE seeing other cruise ships!
Le Soleal Cruise Ship

Regent Seven Seas (voted best small cruise ship line... and $$$) Cruise Ship

The Island Princess

We got back on the ship around 12:45PM (there was a small line... maybe 50 people/10 minutes deep) and decided to go to the hot tub. We went to the hot tub in the mid-ship whirlpool that was covered since it was still raining and less than 55*. This hot tub was not very hot but more Luke-warm. We stayed there for over an hour before rowdy and unsupervised kids started splashing and being loud. We had to pull out our "teacher voices" but at that point we were done. 

We went back to the room and showered up and then went to the balcony to watch sail away but it was still raining pretty steadily and it was windy so we stayed in our cabin. This was the only day it rained on our entire cruise but it was consistent with Alaskan theories of a "steady stream of rain".  

We wandered around the ship for a while before coming back to our room as the rain had let up. We dried off our chairs and sat down for some relaxation. Within minutes we saw a few more whales and several seals and otters. That brought our total whale sightings to 37! 

No tail this time! 

See the whale at the VERY beginning and then later in the video! We finally got one on video... Usually I was taking pictures and Chris was using the binoculars!

One of the 1st thing people have asked since we have been home is "How was the swaying and the waters?" This was easily the SMOOTHEST seas we have ever sailed! We were cruising at 22 knots and you could not even tell we were moving! 

We left our wildlife spotting hot-spot of our aft balcony and went to the MDR for dinner. We planned on arriving at the odd-ball time of 6:30-6:45PM but several other couples had the same theory so we were back to square one. The waiters waited still 4-6 tables were full then took orders, then placed orders, and etc. This meal was not bad at 1 hour 40 minutes but we feel it should have been faster and once again the waiter's dancing slowed down the whole process. 

After dinner we returned to the room to look through the FunTimes for evening activities but both of us fell asleep and didn't wake up until nearly 11PM. Chris considered it a nap and went to the late night buffet (he says the brownies were the best he has had on a cruise... who knew) as I just went back to sleep. 

It was an AMAZING day of exploring yet another state capital and snuggling beautiful  Alaskan husky sled dogs and puppies. We both thoroughly enjoyed Juneau and like the idea of working summers there in the distant future. It is a beautiful town and we loved the locals. Thank you Lord for yet another opportunity to see your handiwork, from the mountains/ scenery to the sled dogs! 

Stay tuned for our last Alaskan stop... Ketchikan! 

God is good... All the time! 

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