Captain Dan Blanchard, CEO of Uncruise Adventures, speaks to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during its weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, June 14, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Captain Dan Blanchard, CEO of Uncruise Adventures, speaks to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during its weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, June 14, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

UnCruise plans to push early tourist season for Southeast

Adventure cruise company UnCruise Adventures will spend as much as three quarters of a million dollars to expand the spring tourism season, CEO Dan Blanchard told the Juneau Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

Blanchard spoke as part of the Chamber’s regular weekly luncheon at the Juneau Moose Lodge.

“If we all work toward the goal of getting people up to Southeast Alaska sooner, we’ll all benefit,” he told the assembled group.

UnCruise has already spent $250,000 on a program it calls “Alaska Awakening.” That program pushes tourists to visit Southeast Alaska in April and May rather than the peak summer season. This year, UnCruise held a season-opening celebration in mid-April, weeks ahead of the first large ship operated by Princess Cruise Lines.

Thus far, Alaska Awakening has been a significant success, Blanchard said. Sales are up 21 percent from last year to this year for his business, he said, and he expects another 14 percent increase between this year and next year.

“I love that we grew 21 percent. That rocks. It’s changed the face of our business,” he said.

To that end, the company is more than doubling down on its marketing efforts. It’s adding between $450,000 and $500,000 on top of the $250,000 that it already planned, he said.

While UnCruise is extremely small by the standards of the companies operating right now on Juneau’s downtown docks — it carries about 7,000 passengers per year; two large cruise ships can carry that in a single day — it has previously served as a pioneer for the industry at large.

Blanchard explained that beginning the cruise season earlier, into what is now called the “shoulder season,” allows peak season (and businesses’ prime pricing) to begin earlier. It also encourages seasonal businesses open their doors earlier, which brings employment and tax revenue to towns across Southeast Alaska.

“The revenue is just sitting there on the table, waiting for a small business to grab it,” he said.

He said tourists have embraced the concept, but their principal complaint is that many Southeast attractions are not yet open. To that end, he asked attendees at the Chamber luncheon to join him in pushing an early start to tourist season.

“If we do this alone, we will not reach the success that we should,” he said. “But if we do this as a group of people … we will be successful, and highly successful, at this.”

• Contact reporter James Brooks at or 523-2258.

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