After years of public debate in Sitka concerning a city-owned dock for large cruise ships, a private company has made the surprise decision to build its own cruise-ship pier. The new dock will be about 1,000 feet in length — long enough to accommodate the largest ships sailing in Alaska (which currently belong to Princess Cruises, the only operator of post-Panamax tonnage on “The Last Frontier”) — and will include an access ramp for tour vehicles.
Meanwhile, Alaska’s capital city and most popular port, Juneau, has more than US$60 million in port improvements on tap from the 2011 through 2014 cruise seasons. Projects include a new visitor center and the replacement of two city-owned cruise ship piers. In Ketchikan, known by its nickname “Alaska’s First City,” officials say they’ve received funding for refurbishments to berths 1 and 2 downtown that could eventually amount to US$26 million; work is scheduled to begin in the fall and run through spring 2015. The city previously had spent nearly US$40 million on pier expansion projects to berth 3 (opened June 2007) and berth 4 (opened May 2008).
If you’ve cruised Alaska before, what did you think of the state’s port facilities?