On Tuesday of our 7 day Inside Passage and Alaska cruise, the Zuiderdam docked in Skagway around 7am.
There are a number of activities passengers can take advantage of while docked in the Port of Skagway for the day, and the most popular seems to be the scenic White Pass train trip. There are outdoor adventure activities like zip lining, biking, hiking, and horseback riding. Some people rent a jeep and drive to Emerald Lake. Or you can do what we did and go to a musher’s dog sled camp, cost was around $115. Today’s price will be a few more bucks more.
A mini bus picks up passengers at the port for a 25 minute drive to where the dog sled camp is located. We were taken to a unimog, a vehicle that looks like a modified golf cart, seating about 6 passengers and a driver. Yes, this was on wheels. No snow, no sled. There were 16 dogs pulling the cart – and away we went! It was raining lightly and the trail became a bit muddy. There’s an uphill portion of the trail where we stopped and a tractor hooked up to pull the unimog the rest of the way, because the dogs don’t ’t have the strength to pull a cart and several passengers up a muddy hill. At the half mile mark, when the ride was half over, the driver switched off the dog team, and a fresh team of 16 dogs was hooked to the unimog.
We returned to the camp with the new team and were able to pat some of the dogs who’d pulled the cart. Tip: pat the dogs at the front because they’re not muddy. The rest of the team gets mud kicked on them by the dogs in front.
An interesting fact are sled dogs aren’t purebred husky dogs, as portrayed in movies. They’re mixed breeds as the mushers try to breed for intelligence and speed. Many dogs are Siberian husky or Malamutes, but some of the dogs looked like they had Border Collie and German Shepherd in them, along with other breeds.
Then we met puppies who were about 8 weeks old and were able to cuddle them and take pictures.
The Zuiderdam didn’t have many activities planned on the ship that morning and afternoon due to being in dock all day. Most passengers disembarked to take advantage of activities in and around Skagway.
Skagway is a cute little town, but there isn’t much to it. There’s one street about 4 or 5 blocks long lined with souvenir shops. Mostly selling the same things at the same prices as everyone else. The same items can be found in the other ports of call. Does every shopkeeper in Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan buy their goods from the same wholesaler? It’s a great place to go shopping, and during this port of call I’ve bought fudge, salt water taffy, chocolate rocks, socks, stuffed animals, an ulu knife (big souvenir purchase for many tourists), and I even got a free train whistle at one of the shops with a coupon I received onboard the Zuiderdam.