Officials in Klawock on Prince of Wales Island are partnering with Huna Totem Corp. to bring cruise ships to the small Southeast Alaska village.
The Alaska Native corporation partnered with the cruise line to open their own cruise ship destination —Icy Strait Point near Hoonah on Admiralty Island — and the partnership in Klawock will lean on that experience, according to Mickey Richardson, Huna Totem’s director of marketing. The venture will start with smaller cruise ships, Richardson told the Empire in an interview, but is planned to grow with demand.
“Our first call will be on May 24, 2023,” Richardson said. “We are constructing a float that will handle the smaller ships.”
Richardson said the project will start out small, focusing on a more boutique tour experience for premium cruise ship customers. Icy Strait Point has its own restaurants, shops and a zip line ride that’s billed as the “world’s largest ziprider” by Icy Strait Point.
But Icy Strait Point was many years in the making, Richardson said, for now, the plan is to have smaller tours that highlight Prince of Wales Island’s local culture and history as well as its extensive scenery and wildlife. Prince of Wales Island has its own road system, Richardson said, that can be used to visit a number of villages, “that all have unique stories to tell.”
The project will repurpose an old timber dock and the future site will incorporate historical and cultural features of the area into the destination, Richardson said.
According to a joint news release from Huna Totem, Doyon and representatives from Kluwock, “the Port of Klawock is ideally positioned for both north and southbound Alaska itineraries. With two separate fjord entrances, sailing in and out of the port treats cruisers to scenic views of the wildlife-rich archipelagos, dramatic mountains and lush islands. The port island connects by bridge to Prince of Wales’ vast road system to other communities and tour options around the island.”
The venture is a joint project between Doyon, Limited and Huna Totem, both Alaska Native Corporations, and is being called Na-Dena`, (pronounced na-da-na) according to a news release from the organizers. Na-Dena` LLC is a 50-50 joint venture between Huna Totem and Doyon, the release said, and is focused on expanding sustainable tourism in Alaska. Na-Dena` will also work with the Klawock Heenya Corporation, the village corporation representing Tlingit people from Klawock.
“Tourism is the opportunity we need,” said Teresa Fairbanks, Klawock Heenya Corporation president. “It’s exciting to now pursue the future for Klawock and our Native shareholders. We know building a tourism-based economy is a process, but we share a similar history of fish canning and timber harvesting with Hoonah.”
Oceania Cruises, a subsidiary of Norwegian Cruise Line, will make the first call in 2023, Richardson said, with the first passengers being tendered off the ship. As the project grows, Richardson said Na-Dena` will look to the local community about what expansion should look like.
Na-Dena` is exploring further opportunities for growth in transportation, lodging and tour development statewide over the next few years, the release said.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.