Skagway Alaska Cruise

Will Your Alaska Cruise Be Ruined Without Shore Excursions?

Are you going on an Alaska cruise but wondering if you can do it without booking any shore excursions? Perhaps you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford to add them, or maybe you’ve booked a last minute cruise, and all the shore excursions are already booked. So what do you do if you don’t book shore excursions? Is it still worth going on an Alaska cruise? I’m also sharing my cruise port and sea days planner as a free printable below.

Do You Need Shore Excursions on Alaska Cruise?

No, you don’t need to book shore excursions on your Alaska cruise to enjoy it. You can absolutely explore the Alaska cruise ports on your own without it. Below, I will go over ideas on what you can do at some of the more popular Alaska cruise ports without shore excursions.

What to do in Juneau without Shore Excursions

If you’re stopping at Juneau, you’ll have plenty to do even without shore excursions. The coolest thing about this port is that it’s just a short drive from a glacier. 

Mendenhall Glacier is only about 30 minutes away from the Juneau cruise terminal. You can easily get there by taxi or shuttle bus. The Glacier shuttle buses are available right at the port and will take you straight to the visitor center in about half an hour. It’s run by private companies, so you’ll have to pay, but it’s worth it. 

You can also take the public bus, but it’s not direct and takes an hour to get to Mendenhall Glacier. It’s a cheaper option ($2 per person), but the bus won’t drop you off at the visitor center, you still have to walk 1.5 miles. It’s a waste of time. So, I wouldn’t recommend it. 

Once you’re back at the port, check out the shops and restaurants around town. You can’t miss the Red Dog Saloon, a historic pub in downtown Juneau. 

If you have time for more adventure, take the Mount Roberts Tram up to the top of the mountain for breathtaking views and to see the bald eagles. The tram is just across from the cruise ship pier, so it’s easy to catch. Don’t forget your binoculars! 

If you want to see whales, get off the ship early and head over to the shore excursion booths at the Juneau cruise port. Many of them offer whale watching tours, maybe you can get a good deal on a last minute whale watching tours.

Alaska Cruise without Shore Excursions

What to do in Ketchikan without Shore Excursions

You can explore Ketchikan on your own without booking shore excursions. As soon as you step off your cruise ship, you’ll find yourself in the heart of downtown, with plenty of shops and restaurants to explore. You can easily spend your day wandering around and taking selfies with to the totem poles on the street. 

To make the most of your time in Ketchikan, I recommend taking a stroll down Creek Street. This historic boardwalk was once the red light district, but now it’s home to charming boutiques and cafes. Be sure to check out Dolly’s House museum and take in the view of the creek. You might even catch a glimpse of some salmon swimming upstream or a playful seal trying to catch its next meal! 

Once you’ve had your fill of Creek Street, take a short walk to the Totem Heritage Center, where you can learn more about the significance of the totem poles in native Alaskan culture. 

If you’re looking for some excitement, head over to the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. This entertaining show is located just a block away from the cruise ship dock and features lumberjacks competing in ax throwing, lumber cutting, tree climbing, and even balancing on floating lumber in water. It’s a great way to cap off your visit to Ketchikan, especially if you’re traveling with kids.

Alaska Cruise without Shore Excursions

What to do in Sitka without Shore Excursions

You can explore Sitka on your own without shore excursions. You can easily explore downtown Sitka and Sitka National Historical Park. 

When you get off the ship, there will be shuttle buses to take you to downtown. From there, it’s a short walk to the Sitka National Historical Park where you can see all the totem poles. 

Admission to the park is free, but be sure to wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be hiking through the park to see the totem poles.

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What to do in Skagway without Shore Excursions

Skagway is a historic town that feels like you stepped in a Gold Rush themed movie set. You’ll want to wander around and take a lot of photos. There are lots of shops and restaurants. It’s a very charming town but very small so you might get a bit bored after a while.

If you still have time and looking for more things to do, you can take the high speed ferry to Haines. You can easily catch the Haines Skagway ferry near the cruise dock. The ferry ride to Haines is 45 minutes and it’s a nice scenic ferry ride. 

Haines is a very small town much smaller than Skagway. Once you reach Haines, you’ll be blown away by the breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains. You can take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront to downtown Haines. 

Downtown Haines is nothing special, but if you really want to maximize your time there, you should really go on a wildlife tour. Try to see if you can book one through independent tour sites like Viator. I saw my first bear in the wild when I went on a wildlife tour in Haines!

Free Port & Sea Days Planner

Get Your Free Cruise Port and Sea Days Planner

Sign up once and you will get access to ALL exclusive content on this website. After unlocking the printable, just save the printable image and then print it. Use it to plan your shore excursions on port day and activities on sea days. I hope you like it!

Cruise Port & Sea Days Planner
Cruise Sea Days Planner

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