In mid-April, I attended an Anchorage Chamber of Commerce luncheon to hear about Holland America Line coming to Anchorage as a port of call for the 2010-2011 tourism season. I was excited at the news, as it's been a long time since Anchorage has seen a major cruise ship at its docks.
I thought this would be big news for Anchorage and big news to the economy.
I was partly right.
SUNSHINE AND RAIN
"It's a cloud with a silver lining," explained Rod Pfleiger, community relations for the Alaska Cruise Association. "This ship previously did a turn port in Seward with 1,400 passengers who got off and were headed to Denali, Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula or the Mat-Su Valley. They overnighted it, and at the same time another 1,400 passengers started their cruise."
That meant money to B&Bs, hotels and bed tax income into the city's coffers to help pay for such things as our convention centers.
"It will help in the long run, but in the short-run it will have a negative impact on the economy," Pfleiger added.
NEW LAST MONTH
Holland America Line came to Anchorage first on May 24 as part of a 14-day cruise departing from and returning to Seattle. It will continue Anchorage dockings on Mondays through the summer into September on a regular basis: June 7, June 21, July 5, July 19, Aug. 2, Aug. 16, Aug. 30 and Sept. 13.
Other ports of call include Ketchikan, Skagway, Sitka, Homer, Kodiak, Juneau and Victoria, British Columbia. Each docking of the Amsterdam will bring 1,380 cruise passengers from all over the world to the ship's lengthiest Alaska port stop, the Port of Anchorage and downtown areas where passengers can leave the ship at 7 a.m. and return at 11 p.m. They will be able to take shuttles or taxis from the port to explore Anchorage.
There will also be a crew of 615, who can depart the ship to load up on supplies, visit retail stores, Internet cafes and other places. "It will have an economic impact," said Pfleiger.
That means dollars for downtown cafes and restaurants, for gift shops and malls, for adventure companies, other local...