The cruise season will be different | Local News

Kodiak’s first cruise season in three years is set to begin July 14 with the arrival of the Roald Amundsen.

The Roald Amundsen, new to Hurtigruten Cruises’ fleet in 2019, has a capacity of 528 passengers and features hybrid technology that will reduce fuel consumption, according to the company’s website.

In total, Kodiak is expected to accommodate 10 ships between mid-July and October 6. These ships have the capacity to bring a total of 6,795 visitors to the island, according to data provided by Discover Kodiak.

Each cruise ship will only spend part of a day in Kodiak, but they will spend enough time for their passengers to participate in shore excursions if they wish.

The exact economic impact of cruise ship passengers on Kodiak is unknown, but off-ship visitors generate handsome additional revenue for Kodiak businesses.

“Whether [cruise ship passengers] doing shore excursions gives these businesses a boost in revenue,” said Aimee Williams, executive director of Discover Kodiak, which coordinates the island’s tourism effort. One of the benefits of getting people to sign up through a cruise ship, Williams said, is that if something happens and the ship can’t make it as scheduled, the local vendor still gets paid.

Cruise ship passengers generate a benefit for Kodiak beyond the actual local dollars spent.

“They’re important to the community because they introduce Kodiak to a lot of people” who can then come for a destination vacation or tell their friends and neighbors about the opportunities, Williams said.

This year’s season will only generate a fraction of the traffic Kodiak received from cruise ships in 2019, when 28 ships arrived in port. The 2020 cruise ship season wouldn’t have been as strong for Kodiak even if it hadn’t been canceled due to COVID, Williams said, because Holland America Line had already decided to remove Kodiak from its schedule. He added a stop at Kodiak this year.

Kodiak was originally scheduled to accommodate around 18 cruise ships starting in April, but the Russian-Ukrainian war caused the cancellation of nearly half of this year’s total schedule.

“A lot of these ships come from Asia and Russia,” Williams explained. “Because of the conflict in this region, these ships did not come. … It’s not that those ships didn’t come to Alaska, it’s just that they didn’t come up the Aleutian Range.

Of the ships that remain on the Kodiak program, their capacities range from 237 on V-Ships’ Scenic Eclipse to 2,106 on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam.

Williams said cruise ship passengers typically look for two or three things when they stop over — an abundance of shore excursions and good ground transportation.

“It’s hard [for Kodiak] to meet demand when the ships are full,” Williams said. First Student does a very good job of transporting passengers, but when school is in session, these buses are used for students.

It also doesn’t help that Verizon doesn’t get great service at Kodiak, Williams said, so passengers on that carrier often have trouble staying in touch with their boat if something were to happen and they needed help.

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