Alaska’s capital, Juneau, is the only mainland US capital city with no road connections. The only way in or out is by air or sea. And despite having a population of only 32,000, it’s the second largest city in the US by area, after Sitka, also in Alaska.
We arrived by boat, as do the majority of visitors to the city. In the summer months, cruise ships land about 6,000 people per day here. We enjoyed the scenery as the Norwegian Jewel cruised slowly up Stephens Passage and Gastineau Channel, and watched the ship dock in Juneau from our stateroom. Being early in the season, the Sapphire Princess was the only other ship in town while we were there.
No roads have been built to Juneau due to the rugged terrain surrounding it, including several glaciers. We took a seaplane tour of the area, with the route shown in the first picture below. The scenery was spectacular, and we had a fabulous time, with James lucky to ride in the copilot’s seat. We also got a view to the historic Annex Creek Hydroelectric plant, operating since 1915.
The weather was remarkably warm and sunny for Alaska in May, and we had lunch outside at The Hanger on the Wharf after our seaplane tour. Their deck has a great view to the constantly-departing seaplanes, shown in the first picture below. After lunch, we walked through town, including a pass along “cruise ship row” with it’s many high-end jewelry stores that really looked out of place in rustic Juneau.
Next up was a 3,819-foot (1,164 m) ride to the top of Mount Roberts on the Goldbelt Tram for spectacular views to Juneau and Gastineau Channel. This early in the season, the top was cold and still covered with snow. In the picture of Jennifer below, people are visible in the background sliding down the snow bank. Many were crew from the Norwegian Jewel, including our steward.
With the ship not departing until 9pm that night, we had time for a tasting flight at Alaskan Brewing Public House, again enjoying the wonderfully warm and sunny weather. Later, we watched the Seattle Kraken playoff game at McGivney’s Sports Bar & Grill in Juneau.
Returning to our cabin on the Jewel, we found our steward had made another wonderful towel animal, this one a dog. Following a spectacular sunset, our ship eased off the dock at Juneau and headed south as a near full moon rose over Gastineau Channel.