The last cruise ship of the season will set sail from Juneau at 10 p.m. on Wednesday. The Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska’s calender for 2019 shows that Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jewel will be the only ship to visit Juneau Wednesday, and the last until next spring.
The final numbers aren’t in yet but this year the number of cruise ship travelers to visit Juneau is, “just under 1.3” million, according to Liz Perry, president and CEO of Travel Juneau, a private tourism industry group.
According to a 2018 visitor survey from the McDowell Group, an Alaska-based analytics company, 1.15 million cruise ship passengers came through Juneau in 2018. Those numbers have been steadily increasing every year since 2010 when almost 900,000 passengers arrived by cruise ship.
According to that same study, the average spending per cruise ship customer is $162. Multiply that by 1.3 million and that’s more than $210 million.
Travel Juneau likes to focus on the independent traveler, Perry said, but a lot of those travelers made their first visit to Juneau on a cruise ship, she said.
“One in five cruise ship passengers will make a return visit,” Perry told the Empire in a phone interview Monday. “So we try to make them feel welcome and give them the information they need.”
Despite the money they bring in, cruise ships aren’t beloved by all in Juneau, as the capital city grapples with overtourism, pressure on infrastructure and environmental issues. Complaints about air pollution hit a record high in 2018 according to the Cruise Ship Air Compliance Report. Earlier this year, renewable energy advocacy group Renewable Juneau circulated a petition to expand the use of shore power for cruise ships.
“We don’t have a problem with cruise ships, per se,” said Renewable Juneau board member Andy Romanoff. “We recognize their value. We’re supporting renewable energy goals.”
When cruise ships are docked in port, if they’re not hooked up to a local electrical source they continue to run their engines for power. The emissions from running those engines has led to fines and complaints from the public.
Romanoff said that many people who signed the petition did so out of concern about cruise ship emissions’ effects on public health.
In September, Norwegian Cruise Lines spent $20 million to purchase a vacant lot on the waterfront in downtown Juneau with the intention of building a new dock for its cruise ships.
According to CLAA, the first cruise ship of 2020 will arrive on April 24.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.