Score: 62

Alaska's small capital lies among the fjords, glaciers, and mountains of the Inland Passage and basks in a relatively mild climate. Although “nearby coastal areas are in great shape,” downtown “serves as a theme park for cruise ship passengers.”

Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:

"Predominately cruise tourism, concentrated in summer and on peak days. Facilities accommodate the surges well, including key sites like Mendenhall Glacier. Ocean tours are well managed and disperse stresses. The nearby coast is pristine. Realistic capacity for cruise-ship tourism has likely been reached."

"Traveling by ferry, we found the sight of six cruise ships in the Juneau harbour most disconcerting. The central part of town was overrun, particularly at midday. The tourist shops and restaurants were out of character. However, a number of them had signs in their windows that read 'This store is Alaskan owned and operated and stocks Alaskan products.'"

“Culture and history are hard to find. Cruise tourism brings economic opportunity but threatens the environment and local culture."

"More developed than I'd prefer. But the areas adjacent to the town are amazingly intact ecologically."

"Natural limits to growth because it is remote and only reached by boat or plane. Crowds of cruise-ship passengers and tacky shops make a downtown visit less than enjoyable, but if you get out and explore, there are outstanding recreation opportunities."

« Back to Full List of Destinations in the Balance

Take a Nat Geo Trip

Select a destination or trip type to find a trip:

See All Trips »

Join Nat Geo Travel's Communities




2014 Traveler Photo Contest

  • Picture of people on the Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

    Enter Today to Win!

    Submit your best shots for a chance to be featured in our weekly galleries and to win a grand prize trip for two to Alaska.