The first mega cruise ship of the year docked in Ketchikan Monday. Holland America Cruise Line’s Volendam carries more than 1,200 passengers. The cruise started in Japan and Ketchikan was the final stop before the cruise ends in Vancouver.
An employee at the Ketchikan Visitor Center is explaining the city’s bus system to a tourist couple wearing rain gear. The center is filled with tourists from the Volendam who are taking shelter from rain and asking questions about Ketchikan.
Kerry is the visitor services coordinator here.
“I think we’re off to an okay start,” she said. “It’s always exciting, the first ship is always kind of exciting. There’s a lot of energy in the air.”
Bill and Terri Heaver from Williamsburg, Virginia, were heading out of the center and into town. They were on the cruise for their 50th anniversary. Terri said she was hoping to see eagles.
“I had no idea Alaska was so vast,” said Bill.
Outside of the visitors center, it’s cold and rainy. But that’s driving people into the shops lining downtown Ketchikan. A lot of those shops have been closed all winter, and are just opening for the season today.
“It’s really exciting because when the winter’s here it’s kind of like a ghost town downtown,” said one employee at the jewelry shop Alaska Bear Company. “So when the cruise ships come in it’s like the downtown is really alive.”
A tourist named Corrine from Singapore said it was her second time in Ketchikan.
“[It's a] fantastic place, magnificent glaciers, scenery,” she said. She was on the cruise with her father.
While most tourists were positive about Alaska, some had criticism.
“I just want to say, Juneau, for being the capital of Alaska, needs to improve itself a lot,” said a tourist name Kel, who is from Calgary. “It left a really bad impression on people on the ship because it’s so run down, a lot of intoxicated people on the streets.”
The only complaint tourists seemed to have about Ketchikan was the rain. The next cruise ship docks in town May 4th. About 850,000 cruise ship passengers are expected to visit Ketchikan this season.