Who doesn’t like a boat ride?
That question is why this year’s ninth annual Maritime Festival, put on by the Juneau Economic Development Council, has added cruises for adults and children to this year’s event starting at Alaska Steamship Dock from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday.
“The cruises are new this year because we want as many people as possible to get out onto water,” Courtney Nelson, event coordinator of the Maritime Festival, said. “Juneau Tours graciously stepped up and donated boats (49-passenger catamarans) for that day. So we jumped at the opportunity.”
Nelson said she also asked herself “how can we make these little cruises even more fun?”
“My friend said why don’t you put Amalga Distillery on one of them,” Nelson said. “And because we have two boats I also asked Port Chilkoot Distillery out of Haines. So we have two distinctive, really good distilleries on board the boat. I thought that would make (the cruises) more attractive.”
The maritime cocktail cruises depart at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. from Seadrome Marina. The cruise will last for an hour and the course will depend just how busy the waterway is, Nelson said. Nelson said anyone interested should plan to arrive early.
For those not old enough to imbibe or want to get some education while on board, there are also two kid cruise options. The first one, departing at 11 a.m. from Seadrome Marine, will feature Sealaska Heritage Institute. On that particular cruise, guests will hear stories from the SHI “Baby Raven” series including the book “Salmon Boy.”
The other kid cruise will feature a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist who will give a lesson about the ocean and answer any questions anyone may have.
In addition to those cruises, there will be a brunch cruise from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and a dance cruise from 3 p.m.-5 p.m.
“We definitely want to keep the festival fresh and keep it fun,” Dana Herndon, Communication Specialist at JEDC, said. “It is a festival about Juneau’s maritime culture and commerce so it makes sense to have people on the water. It is a huge industry here and people should be aware of it and celebrate.”
Matthew Creswell, Deputy Harbormaster at City and Borough of Juneau Docks &Harbors, said the festival is way for people to see maritime-themed groups from the area all in one space.
“We think having the festival is a great way for community vendors, businesses and organizations to come together and showcase all things maritime here in Juneau,” Creswell said.
This is also the first year the festival coincides with a cruise ship also in port.
“This is a family-friendly event that we want all the people to come out from Juneau, but we also want all the cruise people to come out,” Herndon said.
There will also be a raffle event this year. The cost is $5 and the winner will receive two tickets anywhere Alaska Airlines flies.
“It is a really low price-point and we are hoping a lot of people join in,” Nelson said. “It is a win-win for everybody.”
In keeping with tradition from past festivals, the event will kick-off with a ceremonial entrance by One People Canoe Society that will followed by a danceThere will also be a sailboat regatta, a salmon filleting contest put on by Taku Smokeries, a U.S. Coast Guard staged search and rescue demonstration, various contests, food vendors and other maritime organizations. Along with the food and displays there will be seven live music acts all day long. There will also be a 28-foot Thunder Jet Pilot House boat on display from Willie’s Marine.
The event goes on rain or shine, which is good news because rain — as always — is in the forecast. Nelson said it’s rained five times of the past eight festivals
“Even if it is raining people still come out.” Herndon said. “It’s Juneau and people don’t care that much about rain.”
• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.