This is the second part of my series on reviewing my Alaskan Cruise experience aboard Holland America’s Koningsdam. Below are the links to other aspects of my cruise. In this post, I’ll be focusing on the Alaska ports of call on our “Inside Passage” voyage.
Holland America Koningsdam Cruise Report:
Check out my Koningsdam Cruise Report below
- How I booked my “free” Holland America Cruise to Alaska
- Room Review: Holland America Koningsdam Inside Cabin and Obstructed Balcony
- Alaska Inside Passage Ports on Holland America’s Koningsdam
- Holland America Koningsdam Dining and Entertainment
- Day 1: Depart Vancouver
- Day 2: At Sea (Cruising Inside Passage)
- Day 3: Tracy Arm Inlet (for Shore Excursion guests only) + Juneau, Alaska (1-10 pm)
- Day 4: Skagway, Alaska (7 am-8 pm)
- Day 5: Glacier Bay (Cruise Through) (7 am -4 pm)
- Day 6: Ketchikan, Alaska (11 am-7 pm) (tender until 2:30 pm)
- Day 7: At Sea (Cruising Inside Passage)
- Day 8: Arrive Vancouver
Our first land stop was Juneau, Alaska. The town itself had an excessive number of jewelry shops which made the stop feel very commercial and touristy. Not my favorite by any means. We did two activities and took Uber/Lyft to get around.
First, we took an Uber from the cruise port to the Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure which was about 8 miles. It was a bit hard getting an Uber from the cruise port, but we ended up finding one to get us in about 30 minutes or so. It’s a cute concept, where you visit gardens and take a golf cart through a rainforest. Admission was $30.40 per adult. You get to go up to a pretty high elevation and see the city of Juneau below.
I liked the small garden outside the visitor center, and the enclosed visitor center as well. But, I found the golf cart ride through the rainforest to be a bit boring. It was nice to hear the stories from the golf cart driver, but when I heard the word “gardens”, I was expecting more of a variety of plants throughout the journey, but it was mostly just trees.
Next, we took an Uber to the famous Mendenhall Glacier which was about 6 miles away from the Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure. From May 1–Sept. 30 it’s $5 per person for a day pass. The Photo Point trail to see the Mendenhall Glacier is a very short hike from the visitors center (1/3 mile roundtrip), while the Nugget Falls Trail hike to see the waterfall is 2 mile roundtrip.
While I enjoyed seeing the Mendenhall Glacier, it looked quite melted and it was a bit saddening. I wonder how much time is left before the glacier is just all rock. Nugget Falls was cool, but I think the glacier was still more unique.
We then took a Lyft back to the cruise port, which was a bit harder to find an available driver, but after 20 minutes of looking for a ride, we finally got one. Tip: some online posts state that you can’t call Uber/Lyft and what we found out was that you can, but you just have to get picked up/dropped off at the Bus parking lot which is maybe a 5-minute walk to the visitor center. So no issue there!
In Skagway, we opted to rent a car and drive around to the Yukon (Canada). The most famous attraction here is taking the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway, but after some friends who did the train expressed their disappointment of not seeing much in foggy weather, we decided to rent a car sounded like a good idea. And it was! Renting the car and visiting the Yukon was the highlight of my Alaska trip.
We rented an electric Ford Mach E from Klondike Electric Bicycles and they were super friendly! They had a whole route set up where we would drive to Emerald Lake, and come back, which the electric vehicle could do on one full charge. You’ll be entering Canada, so make sure to bring your passport!
The Yukon Suspension Bridge was beautiful and a great rest stop.
You’ll pass by a small town called Carcross, and then you’ll make it to Emerald Lake! And of course, you’ll pass by beautiful scenery along the way.
I was so impressed with the Yukon Suspension Bridge that I felt a bit let down with Emerald Lake. But, nonetheless, it was still quite pretty.
Once we got back to Skagway, we walked around the town and visited some gift shops. A solid port day!
I was super excited about cruising through Glacier Bay National Park. A park ranger comes on board, and they also set up a gift shop. I visited the gift shop, but unfortunately, the selection was quite limited. Once we got to the glacier around noon, the boat stopped for an hour so people could take in the scenery.
Once we got to the glacier, I went up to the top decks to take in the views.
I was a bit disappointed with how melted the glacier looked. A friend of mine went last year, and there was much more ice. Also, if you google Glacier Bay, the cruise line advertisements have way more ice. Seems like climate change is at work! If Glacier Bay is on your bucket list, you better visit sooner rather than later as it seems like it might not have any ice left soon.
In terms of animal life, I saw a cute seal chilling on a chunk of ice! It was still breathtaking to see the glacier up close, and the air was so fresh.
This was definitely my least favorite port, which might also be attributed to the really rainy/windy weather we had here. We were thinking of visiting the Totem Bight State Historical Park and/or doing a seaplane flight but decided not to because of the weather. Also at this port, we didn’t actually dock until 2:30 pm, and if you wanted to get off the boat at 11 am, you would need to take a tender boat which is quite bumpy.
So, I walked around the town and visited the historic Creek St. Like Juneau, the town is quite touristy with an excessive amount of jewelry shops.
At Sea (Inside Passage):
During the sea days, everyone was on the lookout for animal life. I recall the cruise director announcing whenever they saw some orcas swimming by, and people would run to the windows/decks. Sadly, I didn’t see much during our sea days, but I did spot an orca once!
Overall, I have to say I was a bit disappointed with my Alaska port visits. Most of the ports felt like tourist traps with too many jewelry stores. Skagway ended up being my favorite port as I enjoyed our drive to the Yukon and the beautiful views from the Yukon Suspension Bridge. It was sad to see how melted Glacier Bay was, and I’m not sure how much longer it will be until it’s all melted. Despite all this, I am happy I got to visit Alaska for the first time, and perhaps next time I will do more of a land adventure and visit other parts like Anchorage.
Have you been on an Alaska cruise? What did you think about the Alaska ports that you visited? Comment below!
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