Cruise Review: Celebrity Solstice Alaska Itinerary June 2023 – Part 4: Juneau

I preface this day by stating when I looked at the forecast the week before our cruise, Alaska was showing cloudy, rainy, and in the 50s all week. That is what I packed for with the majority of my clothes being long-sleeve shirts and jeans. We had booked Whale Watching and a Salmon Bake for our excursion in Juneau. Even though the day dawned bright and sunny, I anticipated it being a lot cooler on the water.

I was wrong.

We had about two hours after docking in Juneau before we were due to meet for our excursion. I had on a long-sleeve shirt and jeans and carried a sweatshirt. We took a shuttle into town and I immediately knew I was going to be miserable. We walked along the docks. I found a geocache at the visitor’s center then we shopped. I was tempted to buy a t-shirt and change into it, but I thought it would be cold when we were out on the boat for the whale watching. We should have sat down and had something to eat and drink, because it would be a long time before we did later that day.

The excursion is billed as whale watching followed by the salmon bake, although it’s stated that the order can be changed. I didn’t want to have something to eat if it turned out we were going to be eating first. I should have grabbed a couple of bottles of water, though.

After shopping we took the shuttle back to the ship. We had a half hour until the meet-up time for the excursion. Only, it turned out that we weren’t due to board our bus for another 45 minutes. The time they give is to try to make sure everyone gets there on time. Then, it turned out that one of the two buses our group was supposed to be on was running late. Our half-hour wait turned into over an hour, and there were no real seats where we were waiting. It was hot for Juneau. The official high temperature for that day was 78F, but when we drove through town, one of the bank signs was showing 84F. I believe it was probably right for that area with all of the buildings, motor vehicles, and people around. I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since the morning.

The bus finally arrived and took us to the marina to get on the boat for whale watching, only the boat was also running late. There was no place to sit here, either. It was around another 45 minutes until the boat arrived and their previous group disembarked. The people running the excursion promised we would get our full time out there, get to the salmon bake, and get back to our ship on time.

Above are views of the Mendenhall Glacier while we were on our way out to where whales had been seen. The boats are pretty regulated as to how close they can get to the whales and how long they can spend in one particular area, so we boated to a few different spots.

We did see a few whales, but none up all that close. It was still pretty thrilling. My son said this was his favorite excursion. I think the fact that I was overheated, tired from waiting so much, thirsty, and hungry put a damper on the excursion for me. The scenery was beautiful, though.

When we went to the buoy where the seals hang out, I was thrilled. I love watching them. One of my favorite trips was to San Francisco back in 2013 when I sat on the pier watching them for hours. We circled the buoy a few times, watching them sleeping and enjoying the sun on this warm day. It was still hot on the boat. I probably would have felt fine if I had bought that t-shirt to change into when we were shopping.

When we arrived at the Gold Creek Salmon Bake, it was wrapping up for the night. We had less than an hour to get back to our ship. We ate quickly and jumped on a shuttle bus to get back to the ship. I did enjoy what I had, but would have liked more time to enjoy it. The scenery was beautiful as well.

If I go back to Juneau, I’ll probably just go to the salmon bake and then walk around town. The whale watching really didn’t do it for me, but that might have been due to the warm day and having to wait so much. There was also a gold panning excursion with the salmon bake that might interest my son if we ever take another Alaskan cruise. If I did, I’d like to do one with a Denali cruise tour afterward so we see more of Alaska besides the cruise ports.

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