One of the more interesting shore excursions on an Alaska cruise is at the port of Skagway, where Gold Rush history is alive and well. I decided to let the photos do the talking on this one.
Probably the most popular activity in Skagway is a ride on the White Pass & Yukon Railway, and with good reason. This railroad, circa 1898, climbs from sea level to an elevation of almost 3,000 feet within 20 miles, taking on some serious uphill (and later, downhill!) grades of up-to 3.8%.
The train cars are comfortable, and along the way narrators on the train give in-depth history about the rush of would-be gold mining millionaires into the Yukon, and how this amazing railway changed the face of that exciting time.
Most cruise passengers will book this via the ship’s shore excursions desk, and that’s not a bad idea as trains for cruise passengers pull right along the pier. Those who book directly through the train company will have to walk about 20 minutes from the ship to the train station (that’s what we did—no problem).
In addition to the main sightseeing trip which takes you up into the mountains and briefly into Canada, the WP&Y Railway offers the possibility of a (much cheaper) trip where you can get off the train part way along and go hiking, and catch a later train back down. That’s what we intend to do on our upcoming 2013 visit.
Back in Skagway, it’s fun to just wander. There’s also a very silly and fun Gold Rush-themed musical show that’s worth $20, especially if the weather’s not great outside.