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Insider's View

In Juneau with Dave Fremming

When you're out and about in Juneau with Dave Fremming, people are continually stopping to say hello and have a chat. He's a well known figure around town and a man of many talents. Dave is a professional wildlife photographer and the former editor of the Alaskan Southeaster Magazine. During the last few cruise seasons, he has been introducing visitors to his beloved home town as a driver-guide for Princess Tours. Here Dave gives us some helpful advice for visitors to Juneau along with some interesting anecdotes.

Dave with his coach in Juneau.
Photo: David Fremming

Juneau Becomes a Major Cruise Port

"Juneau is considered by many to be the most beautiful capital city in the United States. You can visit Juneau by cruise ship as it is one of the major ports on the Alaska run. Many days, throughout the season, we will see five very large cruise ships in the harbor at the same time. Between passengers and crew members our year-round population of 30,000 can almost double on those days."

"It wasn't always like this. Back in the 1970's, when I was the Executive Director of the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce, our seasonal cruise ship visitor traffic peaked at a mere 180,000 souls. Two things happened that would change this:

  • I had worked very hard to get Aaron Spelling productions to bring the Princess Tours "Love Boat" to Alaska. They arrived one summer on the first of June. Not a cloud in the sky. They filmed a two-hour Alaskan special with Lorne Greene as the guest star.
  • A short time later we were able to get ABC television to bring their "Good Morning America" show to Juneau for a week. They broadcast live every morning from a big platform stage we constructed in front of the Mendenhall Glacier. Also never a cloud in the sky during that week!"

"Partly because of the great publicity Juneau received from these two events, a few years ago we passed the 1 million cruise passenger mark for the season! I've often thought we should have a bronze statue somewhere downtown of the Love Boat's Captain Steubing."

"After retiring, I joined many of my retired long-time Rotary Club friends as a summer-time driver-guide for Princess Tours. This turned out to be one of the most mentally rewarding careers I encountered. I've always loved engaging folks in conversation and with this job, I could do this with folks from all over the world. The happy days for them guaranteed happy days for me. It presented a great opportunity to those of us that have some roots in the community to show off our home town to our new friends each day."

What You'll Find Near Your Ship

"Historic downtown Juneau, where the cruise ships dock, is worth strolling with special attention paid to the turn of the century architecture. Visitors find a very friendly reception and chatting with the old-timers can prove quite rewarding. These sights are near your ship:

  • The Governor's house is accessible for photographs and is a striking building that was constructed in 1912.
  • The State Capitol building is also open for tours daily.
  • The centuries-old Russian Orthodox Church is popular as well.
  • We have a rich Filipino history in the downtown area with the focal point at the Filipino community center.
  • The Mt. Roberts Tramway is a very short distance from the cruise ships, whisking passengers up to the 545-meter level of Mt. Roberts in about 4 minutes. The view from the top is spectacular offering mild to moderate hiking trails, quality gift shops, a nature centre and restaurant.
  • Along the waterfront from your ship you will see several important historic markers including a solemn memorial for the U.S.S. Juneau, a warship that was sunk in a vicious naval battle near Guadalcanal during early World War II. There were only 10 survivors. Families from Waterloo, Iowa well remember the incident as this was the vessel that had the five Sullivan brothers on board, all of whom were lost.
  • You'll also see remains and relics of Juneau's original gold mining history. The last gold mine in the downtown area ceased operation in 1944 due to a man power shortage during the war. Economic and environmental issues have prevented the mine from re-opening in recent years, but now interest is being renewed with the price of gold hitting over $1,400 U.S. per ounce.
  • One should not forget a quick stop at the local fudge company before re-boarding their ship!"

Juneau's Top Attractions Out of Town

  • Close-up Whale Watching - Seeing the giant leviathans coming so close to the boat is breathtaking and an experience not soon forgotten.
  • Mendenhall Glacier - You can drive to this massive Glacier and its lake then hike even closer in and around the area. Don't miss the excellent interpretive centre. Mendenhall presents ice bergs formed from snow that fell about the time that George Washington was president of the United States!
  • Flightseeing - Juneau's helicopter and small plane experiences are unparalleled.

Bears in Juneau

"Black bears inhabit most of the Juneau area and are not interested in creating difficulties for humans. They are very photogenic, but should be treated with respect as they are wild animals. We have never had an incident between a human and a black bear in Juneau. See close-ups of our bears in my online photo album entitled "All about the Birds and the Bears".

Tips & Recommendations

  • Plan to spend your first visit to Juneau reconnoitering the area, making notes of interest to be explored in more detail on subsequent visits.
  • Wear layered clothing as we do have temperatures in the 80's F during the summer months. We do, however, average over 240 days of measurable precipitation each year.
  • If you get a chance, try some of the local fresh seafood, especially halibut, salmon and king crab. Yummo!

By Susan Milne

Ensemble Travel Group

IMPORTANT: When booking, ask us for the appropriate supplier brochure for complete details and terms and conditions for your vacations and as well inquire about any possible past guest savings. Offers are space available and may be withdrawn at anytime without prior notice and are not combinable with other offers (unless stated otherwise). All prices, details and offers are subject to change. We are not responsible for errors or omissions.

Articles by Susan Milne

Ensemble Travel Group - Experience That Takes You Places

Vol. 4, Issue 2