The draft 2013 cruise ship calendar shows that approximately 60,000 more passengers will arrive in Ketchikan than during the 2012 season, potentially breaking the community’s record.
The most recent summer saw 894,320 cruise ship passengers, and the 2013 projection calls for about 950,000.
Steve Corporon is the Port and Harbors Director for the City of Ketchikan.
“For the 2013 season, the lower berth count is going to increase to about 914,000-915,000. Last year it was around 837,000,” he said. “Usually you can see a total passenger count of between 5-7 percent above that. So if you take the 914,000 and increase that by a conservative 5 percent, that gets us up in the neighborhood of 940,000-950,000. Our record is around 941,000. We could set a record this year, yes.”
Lower berths are counted because that’s where most adult passengers will choose to sleep. If a family travels together, upper berths generally are taken by the children.
The expected passenger increase in 2013 is due in part to two ships returning to the Alaska market, the Norwegian Sun and the Regatta. The Amsterdam also will increase its number of port calls compared to 2012.
“And the Solstice is replacing the Infinity. The Solstice is the biggest ship ever that’s going to be coming here,” Corporon said. “It’s a Solstice-class ship, and it’s about 1,040 feet long. The biggest we’ve had up to now is around 965.”
Because of its size, only Berth III can handle the Solstice, which will bring more than 3,000 passengers each time it calls.
The total number of scheduled port calls in Ketchikan for 2013 will be 473, compared to 434 in 2012.
“And that’s only counting the big ships,” he said. “This does not count the small ships. We’re still working on their schedules, like the Intersea Discovery ships. We’ll just fill in the cracks when we get their final itineraries.”
Corporon noted that the weekly schedule has been largely leveled, although Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays will remain somewhat lighter on passenger counts than other days of the week.
The first cruise ship of 2013 is due to arrive April 27, and the final ship will depart five months later, on Sept. 27.
“Our first multiple-ship day, we have three on May 10, then we get a day off on May 11,” he
said. “And then May 12 through Sept. 24, there is not a day in there that there isn’t at least one ship in. It’s a little different that the last couple years where we had a lot of Saturdays off.”
Corporon said construction work on Berth 2 isn’t due to be done until May 1, so the first few ships will dock at Berth 3.