Seventy-three calls are scheduled for 2011, with a five percent increase in passengers at Icy Strait Point, according to Lawrence R. Gaffaney, president and CEO of the Huna Totem Corporation, which manages the port and most of the shore excursions available to cruise passengers.
Huna Totem is owned by over 1,200 Alaska Native shareholders with aboriginal ties to Hoonah and Glacier Bay.
The tender-port is just 50 miles away from Juneau and is “the Alaska that people say they want to come see.”
Shore excursions include everything from a gigantic zipline to various fishing expeditions and kayaking.
A dedicated year-round berth is in the works, with $17 million in state funding allocated and just requiring the Governor’s signature, Gaffaney told Cruise Industry News.
The target date for the multi-use facility is 2013.
The biggest caller for Icy Strait Point is Royal Caribbean Cruises – including both the Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises brands. Additionally, it is Oceania and Regent’s first season calling at Icy Strait Point.
The cruise business accounts for 60 percent of the local sales tax revenue and the Corporation employees 145 people in the town.
“It’s a huge economic driver for the city,” added Gaffaney.
He continued: “After a couple of steps backwards, momentum is really building (for the cruise industry) in Alaska. The head tax was the most visible part but its more than that, people are listening to each other and the legislature is listening to the cruise lines.”
Huna Totem also runs a program that shares the Tlingit culture through an interpretive services program offered on some cruises through Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.
Interpreters will work onboard Alaskan Dream Cruises and Lindblad Expeditions ships for the first time, this summer, and continue to offer programs on Holland America Line.