Visiting Juneau Alaska from the Majestic Princess cruise ship - what to do, what to eat, and where to shop in Juneau Alaska on a cruise!
I recently got to mark off state #50 as I visited Juneau, Alaska - what a way to celebrate visiting every state in America! Alaska is breathtaking, and cruising opens up a whole other side to America's rugged northern state that you can't experience just from land.
We were invited to sail with Princess Cruises for their relaunch back to Alaska as one of their very first cruises back in 2021 after over 500 days without sailing. This was my 9th Princess cruise - and the first time sailing on the Majestic Princess, a ship designed for the Asian market which will be sailing in the Western US (Mexico riviera from Los Angeles and Alaska routes) and Australia for the near future.
For more about our cruise, and What Cruising Is Really Like After The Pandemic, click here to see my review of our first post-COVID cruise!
Editors note: Our cruise was during the late summer of 2021 - and while Alaska did not have a statewide mask mandate in effect, Juneau did have a mask mandate while we were visiting. Our ship, per CDC rules, mandated vaccination, a negative test, and masks indoors and while in port buildings.
Restaurants and tour operators were very strict about compliance to help protect the precious few weeks they had left of the summer cruise season for 2021. We felt safe at all times.
Cruising can be safe, incredibly clean, and just as relaxing and adventurous as ever. There is no better way to relax with friends and family, see gorgeous locations, eat amazing food - without the hassle and worry of many trips... so you can get right into vacation mode.
With upgraded HEPA filters and HVAC systems, increased cleaning protocols, and additional hand washing and sanitation stations for passengers - as well as mask, testing, and vaccination requirements - Princess Cruises has made a commitment to safety for their guests, and I can say I honestly felt safer on ship than in hotels, restaurants, and the few airports I have been in post pandemic - by far. I have cruised with Princess 9 times now, and can honestly say I have never been on a cruise where it wasn't absolutely spotless - but the Majestic somehow felt even cleaner!
Our fellow cruisers and the crew were all really happy to be back traveling, and while nobody loves wearing a mask, everyone was really respectful of each other and each other's comfort levels and safety- there just weren't any issues that were going to weigh us down from having a great time. This hasn't been the case everywhere I have been post-pandemic, and it was such a lovely, welcome change of pace especially as the world seems so negative.
If you want to visit lots of different locations, eat at lots of different restaurants, take in great shows, hit fun new bars, lounge poolside, go out dancing - without leaving a safe "bubble" - cruising should be the vacation you look into!
PS - love a good theme? Check out one of the new theme cruises this winter! I am dying to book one of the 80's inspired sailings!!
Disclaimer: Per CDC rules, my husband and I had to be fully vaccinated more than 14 days prior to embarkation and tested for coronavirus before boarding the ship, and my husband and I were negative 35 hours before boarding.
For my own curiosity for this review, we both tested, using lateral flow tests and PCR tests, to confirm we remained COVID free 14 days after sailing.
Juneau is known for glaciers, wildlife, and larger than life scenery - there is SO much to do, it can be hard to pick what you want to do on an excursion in Juneau.
Many people opt for adventure-packed thrills of helicopter tours, kayak treks, and hikes around Juneau's glaciers - Juneau is a cruise destination where you can definitely get your pulse racing and your heart pounding and get out there for some serious action!
Of course, if you're looking for something that is action-packed, but a bit slower paced, you can check out one of the wildlife watching excursions, shopping excursions, historical excursions - or book the tram, taking you high above Juneau for a gorgeous view!
Riding the Juneau tram, just outside the cruise port, gives you a 360 degree view around Juneau, and the chance for some hiking above it all!
There is also a restaurant, gift shop, and nature center at the summit, giving lots to do after taking the tram to the top.
My husband and I chose to do a whale watching excursion while in Juneau - I love nothing more than watching wildlife on the ocean, and getting to see humpback whales "squirreling" - or jumping - was one of the highlights of our Alaskan cruise for me.
We booked a large catamaran which would be great for a family, but next time, I think we would book a smaller boat to get a bit closer to the action.
We absolutely loved the family that operated our tour - every tour operator we met on our cruise was so thankful to have guests back cruising again post pandemic and back supporting Alaskan families who make their annual income from leading such tours - it was such a wonderful way to learn more about Juneau, native Americans who lived in Juneau, whales that migrate to Juneau's waters, and more about Alaska's unique ecosystem.
If you book a whale watching excursion, be sure to pack the following with you, or consider bringing along with you in a backpack if it is cloudy at all:
- Camera with a zoom lens and rain hood (make sure your camera is weather sealed!)
- Waterproof hat or rain jacket with a hood
- Waterproof gloves
- Waterproof shoes/boots
Most boats provide drinks and snacks, either for sale or as a part of your excursion package. Please take care to not litter!
Tracy's Crab Shack
Tracy's Crab Shack is the most popular restaurant in Juneau - and it's right by the ships!
Tracys Crab Shack is the original king crab shack in Juneau, serving up bisques, crab cakes, cold Alaskan beers, and tons and tons of fresh caught crab.
You can book a number of excursions to Tracy's for an in-depth look at the famous crab shack - or you can pop in on the way to or from an excursion you book, or on the way back from shopping along South Franklin street.
Be sure to grab lots of butter and get ready to dig in - Tracy's is the spot to be sure to get your fill of sweet, salty, buttery Alaskan king crab!
Juneau is known for big thrills - and that definitely is felt when shopping in Juneau!
Alaska does not have a state wide sales tax - making it a shopping heaven for cruisers. Juneau does have a city wide sales tax of 5%.
There are a large number of stores eagerly awaiting cruise travelers just up from the pier in Juneau, with most of the tourist-oriented stores around South Franklin street.
If you're looking to support local artisans, shops, and designers, please consider the following:
- Look for "Made in Alaska" tags on items to support local, Alaska-made items.
- For items that are made by Native Alaskans, look for stickers that say "Authentic Native Handicraft from Alaska".
As far as what to look for in Alaska, look for amber, diamonds, Native handicrafts, smoked salmon and seafood, art, Russian goods (thanks to Alaska's position, you can buy a lot of Russian folk art pieces and religious icons all over Alaska), and memorabilia! Tourist stuff might be a bit cheesy, but there is some truly awesome cheesy stuff to browse in the port shops - we found some trinkets my kids absolutely adored, and bought a bunch of beautiful hand-sewn Christmas ornaments.
Don't forget to stop by the ship's stores before disembarking, however - my husband forgot to pack binoculars for our trip, but knew he wanted to buy some and was going to buy some in Juneau when we were in port.
As we were at sea the first day on the way to Juneau, he strolled through the Majestic Princess' camera store - and found two pairs of binoculars he had been looking at online for months, at a deep, deep discount.
Since the ship operates when at-sea, it is always Duty Free - so be sure to swing by your ship's stores before ever stepping off in port, just in case you can find what you're looking for at a better price! Ships don't offer a lot of the unique handmade items you'll be looking for - but for things like memory cards, batteries, even some cameras, clothing, and name brand jewelry - buying on ship can save you!
What to Drink
Juneau is home to amazing world class seafood - but it's also home to Alaskan beer! While the Alaskan brewery is headquartered in Juneau, there are a few local breweries if you're reaching for something local to quench the thirst you worked up in port!
- Alaskan Brewing Company
- Devils Club Brewing Company
- Forbidden Peak Brewery
- Barnaby Brewing Company
- Amalga Distillery
What to Eat
Juneau is an island, so it is no doubt when visiting, you can fill your plate full of local, fresh, and delicious seafood and be entirely happy!
Be sure to be on the lookout for any locally caught Alaskan seafood specialties like:
- Alaskan King Crab
- Salmon - prepared fresh and smoked
- Spot Prawns
- Dungeness Crab
There are a number of sports bars, pubs, and restaurants that offer pizza, burgers, and other foods that aren't just seafood focused if you're not a fan of fish, too.
When You're Back On Ship
Don't let your Alaskan themed meals end when you're back on ship - Princess offers lots of fresh local options in the buffet and main dining room, as well as some of the specialty restaurants!
My husband and I had Alaskan halibut fish tacos and fish and chips, Alaskan oysters, Alaskan salmon, as well as lots of local Alaskan beers while back on ship!
Book Your Own Cruise To Visit Juneau!
Ready take a real vacation, and let the last years sail away?
Check out some of the offers below:Take advantage of up to $200 onboard spending money per stateroom. Available on all cruises and cruisetours. BOOK A CRUISE TODAY!
Princess is back — on the California Coast! Guests and crew together again starting October 6 aboard Majestic Princess! We will operate these cruises consistent with CDC guidelines for a vaccinated cruise. Book now!
Check Out Princess Cruises - Alaska 7-Day Voyage of the Glaciers (Northbound) - Interior from $899* per person. BOOK TODAY, TO SAIL LATER!
Princess is committed to meeting and often exceeding CDC guidance for safe cruising, so you can truly relax and enjoy. If you haven't considered cruising in the past, it is time to reconsider!