SEATTLE -- Princess Cruises will shorten the time its ships spend
in Juneau next summer. The company stressed that the change was an
"itinerary adjustment" and not a retaliatory response to the port's
recent decision to impose a $5 a head tax on arriving cruise
Two of Princess' vessels will reduce their stops in the Alaska
capital by three hours, departing at 8 p.m. instead of 11 p.m., as
in the past. One ship will leave at 9 p.m. rather than 11 p.m., and
two others will leave at 5 p.m. instead of 6 p.m.
The earlier getaway is likely to hurt Juneau businesses, which
tend to benefit most from passengers' late, post-shore-excursion
"This is something we were working on long before the head tax
issue arose," said Dean Brown, president of the company's tour
"It's an adjustment that will allow us to spend more time in the
next ports -- Ketchikan, southbound and Skagway, northbound. It
will put us in both of those ports earlier," he said. "We believe
that that's what our passengers want, based on what they've told
Princess lands some 170,000 cruise passengers in Juneau each
year. The schedule tweaking could cost merchants millions of
dollars as a result of the 340,000 peak shopping hours lost.
As reported, citizens voted for the head tax in response to
concerns about the effect of cruise passengers on the city's
services, environment and traffic patterns.
Brown said Princess was totally responsive to Juneau's concerns
-- to the point that it moved its motorcoach maintenance yard from
one side of town to the other, thereby cutting out as many as 7,000
coach passages through downtown on the busiest cruise days.
"It was not unusual for a driver to take a coach from the yard
in the morning before a shore excursion, drive it back through town
empty at lunchtime, then repeat the process in the afternoon,"
"That represents four trips through town. Now, by having our
motorcoaches on the other side of Juneau, near the pier, we've
eliminated an awful lot of that traffic," he added.