What Alaskan cruiser hasnt been to
Skagway, the Gold Rush town; Ketchikan, where it rains 364 days a
year; or Juneau, the state capital, which can entertain up to five
cruise ships on a busy summer weekday?
certainly are ports less visited. And the small-ship cruise lines
can go to the more obscure places: Cruise West this year added a
stop on several of its cruises called Elfin Cove, a roadless town
(people get from place to place via boardwalks) with only 60
I think more and
more of these other ports will be developed, said Dean Brown,
Princess Cruises executive vice president of fleet
example, has a 10-day cruise that could be open to port
experimentation, Brown said. Currently, Princess is satisfied with
its seven-day itineraries to Ketchikan, Juneau and
One of the issues
in Alaska is space. Alaska might be the biggest state in the U.S.,
but when it comes to cruising, it can get pretty
As the popularity
of Alaska cruises continues to grow, particularly in the tight
summer weekdays, cruise line executives are convening and parceling
out berths. Some of the smaller ports might fit into a cruise lines
Here are a few
there: Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises. Look for
other lines to add their names to the roster in 2006. The port said
it has preliminary requests from cruise lines for 62 calls in 2006,
up from 37 in 2005.
The port limits
the number of ship calls to one per day.
Claim to fame: Icy
Strait Point is the first custom-developed cruise call in Alaska.
The port is owned by the Huna Totem Native Corp., which represents
the Tlingit people of Hoonah, a town about 1.5 miles from Icy
laid-back call: Icy Strait Point originally had a salmon
cannery operation, and the original cannery building is now a
museum and shopping arcade; the dining hall was converted into a
seafood restaurant. Passengers can hike
in the hills on recently created trails, whale-watch at nearby Port
Adolphus, take a bike tour or walk to Hoonah to mingle with the
Don Rosenberger, vice president of
tourism development for Huna Totem and Icy Strait, said bear- and
whale-watching tours sell out every day.
This is a very
unique call, Rosenberger said. Its not in a city; it provides
guests with a real contrast.
excursion: For $120, Royal Caribbean takes passengers on a
sea wildlife tour. Humpback and orca (killer) whales, Steller sea
lions, harbor seals, bald eagles and other animals are on the list
for potential sightings.
there: Cruise West, Crystal Cruises, Glacier Bay
Cruiseline, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess
fame: Haines calls itself the Valley of the Eagles, a
reference to an annual fall gathering of the regal birds. But there
is a year-round population of about 300 bald eagles, and passengers
frequently see the birds flying by the ship.
for 2005: Haines has a grant to build a pavilion at the
dock, which provides a covered shelter area with benches, rest room
facilities and phones. The city also is looking into building a
totem pole boardwalk from the dock to nearby Lookout
neighbor: Even if your ship doesnt call at Haines, you can
reach it from Skagway via a fast ferry (a 35-minute
do: Haines is home to the American Bald Eagle Foundation;
the Sheldon Museum, which features Tlingit artifacts; and Alaskas famous Hammer Museum, with
about 1,200 different hammers on display. Passengers can shop and
eat in downtown Haines (shuttle service is provided) and in Fort
Seward, just across the pier.
excursion: For $115, a drive up the Takshanuk Trail on a
Kawasaki Mule utility vehicle, best described as a heavy-duty golf
cart that drives no faster than 3 mph on the trail, says Holland
America in its brochure.
there: Cruise West, American Safari Cruises, Glacier Bay
fame: Petersburg, founded by Norwegians, celebrates its
heritage in its architecture, festivals and food. Like many towns
in Alaska, it also has a strong fishing culture, so theres plenty
of fresh fish and seafood on hand.
small-ship haven: Petersburg is slightly off the beaten
path, but we think youll find it well worth the effort to get here,
says a note on the citys chamber of commerce Web site at
We are really
embraced by the local community, said Leigh Strinsky, manager of
product development for Cruise West.
excursion: One of the optional trips that I think is one
of the most interesting is the Patti Wagon, Strinsky said.
This is a trip with Patti, the owner of a local
cannery. Patti ... takes our guests through the cannery and then
out to her house. They sit on her deck and she serves shrimp
cocktails and talks about what its like to live in
there: American West Steamboat Co., Cruise West, Glacier
Bay Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line.
The city improved
its cruise dock last year in hopes of attracting more cruise
fame: Wrangell has the only golf course in southeast
Alaska thats rated by the U.S. Golf Association.
2005: Wrangell recently completed several tourism-related
projects, and others are scheduled to be finished this
The city opened
its James and Elsie Nolan Civic Center, which houses the Wrangell
Museum and the visitor center. The museum features a timeline of
town history, which encompasses the history of the Tlingit and
Haida people and Russian and Hudson Bay Co. settlements.
the Mount Dewey Trail also are in the works. Once the work is done
this spring, passengers will be able to make a 400-foot climb to
the top for views of Wrangell.
attractions: The Anan Bear and Wildlife Observatory, where
passengers can spot brown and black bears.
excursion: Passengers on American West Steamboats Empress
of the North tour visit nearby Chief Shakes Island to see totem
displays and a replica of a Native American tribal house and visit
Petroglyph Beach State Park to see 8,000-year-old
reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].