Juneau’s 2022 cruise ship season ended with an Encore – a Norwegian Encore.
The final cruise ship, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Encore, was scheduled to depart Juneau on Tuesday evening, marking the end of another tourist season that officials say has brought the number of pre-pandemic visitors closer to the capital.
In total, this season’s average capacity level on cruise lines has reached about 74% over a period of several months, according to Cruise Lines International Association Alaska, which is about a quarter below the average capacity level. before the pandemic when ships were almost always full.
However, according to Lalanya Downs, senior director of community relations and public affairs for CLIA, the agency expects capacity levels next year to be even higher, with a 2023 rollout expected to exceed 2019 levels. In 2019, 1.3 million cruise ship passengers came to Juneau.
This comes after two years of severe shortages of cruise and tourist ships in the capital — and other parts of Southeast Alaska — due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with the 2022 season in the rearview mirror, city officials and cruise line representatives said this year’s season had many positive impacts on Juneau’s community and economy, but it was not without its set of obstacles either.
Alexandra Pierce, CBJ’s head of tourism, said this year’s season has gone “relatively well” and said it’s still too early to know the full impact on both the community and on the economy, she said the revival of tourism was generally welcomed by residents. and downtown shops.
“I think the community was more or less relieved to see the industry despite the usual concerns and constraints,” she said. “I think it’s a sign that the effects of the pandemic are fading.”
However, some cruise industry critics are happy the season is over.
Kimberly Metcalfe, a longtime Juneau resident who has frequently called for action to limit the local impact of cruise ship tourism, said she was “pleased to see the season come to an end” and said that ‘she thought there were, and were, too many tourists coming. in Juneau. She said the number of tourists this year had negatively affected her daily life and her neighborhood on Basin Road.
“I’m happy to see the industry go for the winter and I would really like to see the city limit the number of ships that come to Juneau,” she said. “They keep making bigger ships and the number keeps growing.”
Metcalfe said Juneau is a “very small and remote town” and she believes the number of people coming during the season is a danger to the health and safety of residents in several ways.
“There are so many reasons why I think they should be limited, other than the impact of my own neighborhood, I think the whole city suffers,” she said.
Numbers and capacity levels
Pierce said the city faces a fair share of problems, including a labor shortage for industrial workers, but said in particular that the lack of school crossing guards and bus drivers at Capital Transit has hurt the city’s ability to provide adequate service to tourists and residents. in Juneau.
Pierce also noted that the current housing crisis in the city was also making it difficult for cruise lines to house much of its staff, even though the city had fewer visitors than expected, reaching around 74% during the season. , which is a significant change from the pre-pandemic seasons. which have almost always operated at full capacity.
Trinitey Letterman, docks representative for her mother’s companies Alaska Galore Tours, Harv and Marv’s outback Alaska and Juneau Lighthouse Tours, said this year’s season was “busier than expected” and was happy to have a ” amazing comeback season”.
Letterman said staffing was a bit of an issue this year, but the crew was able to make things work. She said on their biggest day, their crews hosted visits for more than 270 people. On Tuesday, she said they expected to give visits to 15 people.
Matt Lupoli, senior director of public relations for Carnival Cruise Line, said the 2022 season was a “success” for its cruise ships and noted that its three-ship fleet brought more than 100,000 guests from Seattle and San Francis in Alaska.
“We are delighted with the success of this season,” said Lupoli. “It is clear that local tourism businesses have missed out on the economic impact that the summer cruise season brings to the region and after a difficult period for the industry, we are delighted to have played a greater role in the first return from the full season to cruising.”
Lupoli said Carnival Cruise Line made “modest changes” due to staffing issues early in the season. He said these changes, which he did not identify, were temporary and affected some of his dining options, but my mid-season staffing challenge was mitigated.
Lupoli also noted that the closure of the Skagway dock has forced Carnival Cruise Line to change its docking location to Skagway due to the closure.
He said that for the 2023 season, the cruise line plans to return to Alaska with its three-ship fleet bringing tourists from the Seattle and San Francisco area.
A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean Group said that between its three cruise lines – Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises – the group has sailed 10 ships to Alaska this year, which is its largest deployment to this day and represents a 110% increase in guest numbers in Alaska. compared to 2019.
The spokesperson said all ships were fully staffed and did not have to cancel trips due to staffing issues. They noted that his vessels had to sail away from Skagway due to the closure of the Skagway wharf and anchored offshore tender guests at the port for the remainder of the season.
The spokesperson said he was looking to continue his community partnerships in Juneau and bring his fleets back to Alaska for the 2023 season.
Norwegian Cruise Line did not respond in time for publication.
According to Capital City Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Ed Quinto, the number of cruise ship incidents the CCFR has responded to during the season has been “pretty uneventful.”
“Overall, we were able to handle all the calls and response delays to cruise lines. If someone called us, we could get out there and deal with it,” he said.
He said the CCFR has joined the Coast Guard in its search for one of two missing person incidents reported by the Coast Guard this year. He said that in early August, after being tipped off by the Coast Guard, CCFR officials pulled out boats and helped check under the docks and shoreline for the missing person, but couldn’t find anyone.
The missing person was later identified by Holland America as a “crew member” of the Koningsdam vessel. According to a Holland America Line spokesperson, a review of CCTV footage indicated the man likely went too far intentionally.
Quinto said the 2022 season “was about flat” compared to pre-pandemic seasons and said there was nothing particularly unusual about the type or amount of calls.
The coming season
Pierce said she was excited for the 2023 season, but was waiting to forecast what the season of the year should look like until she got more information.
She said the city will continue to address tourism-related issues throughout the year in preparation for the 2023 season, including taking steps to electrify the city’s docks, other infrastructure goals related to the cruise industry, better communication on schedules and the modification of port capacity limits.
“I think we’re working with the cruise industry to improve the experience for visitors and residents — it’s something the city has heard loud and clear from residents,” she said. “I think we are making very good progress and I hope we can continue with this energy until the 2023 season.”
• Contact journalist Clarise Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.