Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cruise Ships: Stay, Just a Little Bit Longer

Former gold rush hub, Ketchikan, Alaska is lobbying for cruise ships to spend more time there. The city's Downtown Steering Committee points out that Ketchikan has the shortest stays on average of the three primary Alaska cruise port cities: 3,700 hours for Ketchikan, compared to 6,496 hours for Skagway and 6,843 for hours Juneau. This, merchants claim, reduces the amount of money cruise passengers spend in Ketchikan and negatively impacts the local economy. As a result, city officials have hatched a plan to invite cruise line representatives to Ketchikan to discuss lengthening their port calls.

In an interview for the Anchorage Daily News, Downtown Steering Committee member Todd Phillips said that many of this season's cruise ships will only be docked for about six hours in Ketchikan, giving most passengers only time enough for a tour and little else. He also said that average port stays worldwide last between eight and ten hours.

Not everyone shares his optimism, though. Ketchikan City Council member Chuck Freeman expressed skepticism that the city could convince cruise lines to extend port stays. Also speaking to the Anchorage Daily News, he pointed to the fact that cruise ships are running slower to conserve fuel costs and that they have only a certain amount of time to get from one end of the Inside Passage to the other. He predicted that cruise line representatives will, "pat us on the back," and then do what they want. "I think it's pretty much a forlorn hope," he said.

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