Hundreds walk the waterfront near Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza during the 2023 Juneau Maritime Festival in early May. City data revealed a total of 627,220 passengers have visited Juneau so far this cruise ship season and large ships in the last three months came in at 99% of their official capacity. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

Hundreds walk the waterfront near Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza during the 2023 Juneau Maritime Festival in early May. City data revealed a total of 627,220 passengers have visited Juneau so far this cruise ship season and large ships in the last three months came in at 99% of their official capacity. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

Mid-season passenger numbers show large cruise ships at — or above — 100% capacity

A total of 627,220 passengers have visited Juneau so far this season.

Juneau welcomed 223% more cruise ship passengers during April compared to last year’s season, followed by a 61% increase in May and a 46% increase in June, city data revealed Thursday.

Cumulatively, those numbers indicate that large ships in the last three months came into Juneau at 99% of their official capacity — and in April and June they were actually above that, reaching 101% and 102% of their capacity, respectively.

The data checks out as before the season began, city and industry officials anticipated a record-breaking 1.67 million visitors to arrive this summer — topping 2019’s passenger count by 30% and following three years where cruise ship traffic was reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, a total of 627,220 passengers have visited Juneau as of Thursday.

“That feels right — it’s exactly what I’m seeing on the streets and on the water,” said City and Borough of Juneau Harbormaster Matthew Creswell in an interview Thursday.

Creswell said ships have been able to come in above their standard capacity because of what is known as a “lower berth count,” which is the number the city forecasts capacity based on.

“A standard cruise ship room has two beds, right, but it also has a couch, some have roll-aways — so there is the ability to have more than two people in a room, which is what the lower berth count is based on,” he said. “So ships can have extra people, extra room, and that’s how you can get over 100%.”

Creswell said he thinks Juneau is on track to hit the anticipated 1.67 million visitor record originally forecasted, describing the season so far as “really, really, really busy.”

“There’s a lot of people in a lot of ships and it’s busy — it’s just really busy so it’s tracking that way,” he said. “But overall, just from our perspective, things seem to be managed really well this year and are going well.”

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807.

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