Cruise ship passengers walk around in downtown Juneau in late May. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

Cruise ship passengers walk around in downtown Juneau in late May. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

Saturday will mark first day without cruise ships since early May

Nearly 1.5 million cruise ship passengers have arrived in Juneau so far this season.

This upcoming Saturday will mark the first day residents will not see any cruise ships downtown since early May.

“It’s been our busiest season on record and this slowdown will help,” said City and Borough of Juneau Tourism Manager Alexandra Pierce on Monday.

However, despite the no-ship day on Saturday, ships will continue to arrive in Juneau until late October, but will begin dwindling down in numbers beginning Sept. 27. Following that date no more than three ships will arrive on a given day, and on many days in Juneau will only see one or no ships.

The final ship, the Norwegian Sun, is scheduled to depart Juneau on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

“We’re almost there — we survived,” said CBJ Harbormaster Matthew Creswell in an interview Monday. “Things are going very smooth, there are things that go wrong every day, but no major hiccups.”

Pierce said she described the season so far as busy, but noted congestion downtown will start to ease up soon, especially come the end of September. Data collected by the city shows as of Monday, Juneau has welcomed 1,499,543 passengers so far — nearing 92% of the record-breaking 1.67 million total number of visitors anticipated by city and industry officials this season.

The data also indicates that large ships in the last three months came in at 103.6% over their official capacity.

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

“I think it will slow down significantly as we move into October, but this time of year is often challenging for operators,” she said. “They start to lose their college students, seasonal employees and high school students go back to school, so we’re operating at close to our mid-summer capacity with a lot of businesses feeling the staffing pitch.”

Pierce said some of that pressure comes from the cruise ship season growing longer in recent years and businesses not being able to keep staff during that extended period.

“We used to have ships from the beginning of May to the end of September — that is our traditional season — but now we see ships in April and October,” she said. “And that’s challenging for local businesses trying to stay staffed up to finish out the season. When we have one ship every few days towards the end of October it’s hard, I think, for a lot of business owners to justify staying open.”

Looking toward the 2024 season cruise lines have agreed to a daily limit of five ships visiting Juneau, an agreement Pierce said is a step in the right direction.

“We definitely heard a lot from the community about the need to think about our future as a destination and what a sustainable industry looks like,” she said. “We have a lot of work to do over the winter with everything from glacier operations to whale watching to analyzing commercial recreation use and updating the commercial use of trails, and then the big picture stuff as well.”

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at or (651) 528-1807.

More in News

The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Encore docks in Juneau in October, 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for t​​he Week of Sept. 23

Here’s what to expect this week.

A person departs Bartlett Regional Hospital on July 26, a day after a board of directors meeting raised issues about the hospital’s leadership and quality of care, with then-CEO David Keith resigning a week later. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
New Bartlett CEO has lots of experience with mergers, transitions as hospital confronts struggles

Meanwhile former CEO still getting paid for post-resignation ‘transition’ despite leaving the state.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023

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

Former Coppa Cafe co-owner Marc Wheeler and current owner Maddie Kombrink smile for a picture at the downtown cafe Wednesday morning. Last week the cafe celebrated its 10-year anniversary in Juneau. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
‘It’s a wonderful milestone’: Coppa Cafe celebrates a decade of service in Juneau

Ten years is just the beginning, says current and past owners.

Ian Worden addresses Bartlett Regional Hospital’s board of directors via Zoom during a meeting Tuesday night where he was subsequently hired as the new interim chief executive officer. He is expected to begin the job within a month. (Screenshot from Bartlett Regional Hospital video)
Bartlett Regional Hospital, during unusual board meeting, makes yet another interim CEO hire

Longtime Seattle-area executive unanimously chosen as hospital’s third leader in past two months.

Lt. Krag Campbell with the Juneau Police Department smiles for a photo Tuesday evening outside of City Hall. Campbell is one of two finalists seeking the chief position at the department. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Juneau officer seeking department’s top spot says 21 years in community an asset

Lt. Krag Campbell one of two finalists for chief of police.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Monday, Sept. 25, 2023

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

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, a Democrat who became the first Alaska Native in Congress a year ago, discusses issues and adjusting to the national political scene on Sept. 8 as part of a three-day visit to Juneau. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
A year after surprising victory, Peltola a popular target in Congress

Spending 9/11 with Biden, being top target of GOP now part of job while dealing with family matters.

Most Read