Representatives from Norwegian Cruise Lines discussed its plans for a cruise ship dock at the recently purchased lot in downtown Juneau with reporters Wednesday.
“We’re looking at this not for this year, but for the next 30 years,” said Howard Sherman, executive vice president of onboard revenue and destination services for Norwegian.
Sherman and his colleague Steve Moeller met with reporters at City Hall following a day of meetings with local officials and community members.
“They’re beginning to understand the community’s needs and interests,” City Manager Rorie Watt said.
Sherman said that Norwegian wanted to secure a place for the company’s ships. Berth rights are based on historical precedent, which means that ships that arrived in previous years are given preferential treatment depending on their past schedules.
In purchasing the lot, located off Egan Drive next to the Coast Guard station downtown, the company wants to make sure its ships will always have a place to dock. Sherman said that Juneau and Alaska were increasingly popular destinations, but that the number of berths haven’t grown with the demand.
Ensuring a space to dock its ships was why the company spent $20 million dollars to buy the lot, which had been vacant for years. It was sold by Trust Land Office, which manages land by Alaska Mental Health’s Trust Authority.
“We bid a bit more than we had planned to bid,” Sherman said. “We wanted to be sure we were going to get the property.”
NCL Bahamas Ltd., which does business as Norwegian Cruise Lines, offered $20 million for the land in a sealed bid process that was announced last month. That was $7 million more than the next highest bidder, another cruise line, Royal Caribbean Cruises, which offered $13 million.
Norwegian has no illusions about the difficulty involved in building a new cruise ship dock, but said that the company was committed to working with the community to find a mutually beneficial arrangement.
He pointed to public-private partnerships in the cities of Seattle and Miami, where Norwegian had committed large amounts of money to build infrastructure projects those cities wanted built.
“We like to engage with the local partners,” Sherman said saying the company wanted was looking to local entities to determine what kinds of priorities the community has. “We can come in with capital, and make those capital dreams come true. We’re more than investors,” he said.
Sherman told reporters that sustainable growth, both in terms of passenger numbers and environmental impacts, was important to Norwegian.
“Sustainability is important at Norwegian. We have very strict environmental guidelines,” Sherman said. He said that the ability to connect to shore power, something not available at the current cruise ship dock, was something the company wanted.
“We don’t have any firm plans for the site yet, but we want to have the site be shore power capable,” he said. “I can’t imagine we wouldn’t do it.”
Sherman said that the company would be posting a request for information on its website where members of the community could submit ideas for the future dock to the company. He did not say when that feature would be available.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.