Heather Haugland, senior project manager at the McDowell Group speaks to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce about Travel Juneau survey results at a luncheon at the Hanger Ballroom on Thursday, March 21, 2019. (Mollie Barnes | Juneau Empire)

Heather Haugland, senior project manager at the McDowell Group speaks to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce about Travel Juneau survey results at a luncheon at the Hanger Ballroom on Thursday, March 21, 2019. (Mollie Barnes | Juneau Empire)

Mid-size ship market growing in Juneau

Quarter of visitors surveyed said they plan to come back to Alaska in next 5 years

There’s a lot of focus on the growing tourism industry in Alaska, specifically with cruise ship passengers. But another growing area not many are talking about is the mid-size ship industry.

Heather Haugland, senior project manager at the McDowell Group, a local research and consulting company, said that this is one of the most exciting areas of growth at a Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday.

“It had been in the back of my mind, watching that market increase, and when I really dug into the numbers I was surprised at just how many mid-sized ships are coming in the next couple of years,” Haugland said in an interview with the Empire after the presentation.

[More tourists are coming]

Mid-size ships carry 250 to 1,000 passengers, and account for just 2.7 percent of the total cruise market in Juneau. But that market grew from two to five vessels from 2017 to 2018.

“I read all the time that mid-size luxury is this huge market growing all the time,” Haugland said in her presentation. The Hurtigruten will be the first hybrid-electric powered cruise ship in Alaska and is set to start sailing in 2020 with a 530 passenger capacity.

When it comes to large ships with over 1,000 passengers, the biggest trend developing is that the ships are getting bigger. Some are almost doubling going from 2,000 passenger capacity to over 4,000.

Over the period from 2016 to 2018, the number of cruise ship tourists went up by 13 percent, air travel tourists went up by 4 percent and ferry travelers went down by 12 percent. Haugland said the decline in ferry passengers was mainly due to a decrease in services and sailings, however.

Some other tourism stats from her presentation from a 2016 survey:There were 2,800 tourism jobs in Juneau, accounting for 12 percent of the workforce

The average age of a tourist in Juneau is 57 years old

Cruise visitors on average spent $162 a day, most of that being on tours and activities

26 percent of visitors surveyed had been to Alaska before and 25 percent said they were very likely to return in the next five years

A slide from a McDowell Group presentation on Juneau Visitor Profile and Impacts. (Courtesy)

A slide from a McDowell Group presentation on Juneau Visitor Profile and Impacts. (Courtesy)

Seventy-one percent of people who traveled were very satisfied with their overall Juneau experience. She said a big growing market in Juneau is people who visit breweries and distilleries in town.

[City, cruise lines reach settlement in long-standing lawsuit]

Another question the McDowell Group asked visitors was what the thing was they felt they missed on their trip to Juneau. Haugland said most people answered that they missed seeing the Northern Lights.

But she said, “I’m not sure what we can do about that,” which drew laughs from the crowd.


• Contact reporter Mollie Barnes at mbarnes@juneauempire.com.


More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Jan. 29

Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Daniel Winfree gets a standing ovation from the Alaska State Legislature as he enters the House chamber Wednesday to deliver his final State of the Judiciary speech. Winfree is stepping down next Monday when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Chief justice bids lawmakers a fervent farewell

Daniel Winfree, in State of Judiciary days before retirement, warns about mixing politics and courts

Alpine meals are great, but it's tough to beat the satisfaction of a hot meal on the shore after fishing through a run for steelhead. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
I Went to the Woods: Either or, probably not both

It’s really difficult to double-major both in college and in life.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

This photo shows frozen salmonberries for use all winter. (Courtesy Photo / Vivian Faith Prescott)
Planet Alaska: Salmonberries in winter

Sometimes in the winter, I dream of salmonberries…

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Young students from the Tlingit Culture Language and Literacy program at Harborview Elementary School dance on stage Wednesday afternoon during a dancing-of-the-robes ceremony for over a dozen Chilkat robes that were weaved by student weavers who participated in a more than two-year-long apprenticeship to learn the craft.
Chilkat robes come to life in ceremony

The pieces were created by dozens of student weavers over the past two year

This Sunday, June 30, 2019, aerial photo released by Earthjustice shows the Alaska's North Slope in the Western Arctic on the edge of Teshekpuk Lake, Alaska. The Biden administration issued a long-awaited study on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, that recommends allowing a major oil development on Alaska's North Slope, and the move — while not final — drew immediate anger from environmentalists who saw it as a betrayal of the president's pledges to reduce carbon emissions and promote clean energy sources. (Kiliii Yuyan for Earthjustice via AP)
Biden administration takes step toward OK’ing Willow Project

Final decision expected no sooner than early March.

Bus drivers picket outside the bus barn in Wasilla, Alaska on Jan. 26, 2023. Bus drivers in Alaska’s second-largest school district have gone on strike after delivering students to classes on Tuesday,  Jan. 31, citing unfair labor practices. (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News)
Mat-Su school bus drivers strike

ANCHORAGE — Bus drivers in Alaska’s second-largest school district went on strike… Continue reading

The Juneau School District’s recently announced its new directors of teaching and learning support and student services who are set to start in their positions in July. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
District selects new directors for teaching and learning support and student services

The new directors will take over their roles in the district in July.

Most Read