Crews power-wash rope barriers along Front Street Thursday in preparation for Ketchikan’s summer cruise season. The barriers help keep thousands of summertime pedestrians from wandering into traffic. (KRBD photo by Leila Kheiry)

Ketchikan’s cruise season starts in less than a week, with the arrival of the Ruby Princess at 7 a.m. Thursday.

That’s the first big ship of the season, bringing more than 3,000 passengers. A smaller ship, the Wilderness Explorer, made an early stop in Alaska’s First City on April 13th with approximately 75 passengers.

Ketchikan will ease into the season, hosting one or two ships most days for the first week. On May 10, though, the community will start to see four or more ships stop on a single day.

The Norwegian Bliss will be Ketchikan’s first mega-ship. That 1,094-foot vessel first arrives on June 4, bringing more than 4,000 passengers per trip. It’s scheduled for weekly Tuesday port calls for the remainder of the summer.

Alaska Cruise Line Agencies International President John Binkley greets the Borda family. Candy Borda was the one-millionth cruise visitor to Ketchikan for the 2017 season. (KRBD file photo by Leila Kheiry)

Other new ships this season will be the Carnival Splendor, Silver Explorer, American Constellation and Star Legend. The Splendor carries about 3,000 passengers. The other three new vessels are smaller ships, with up to 200 passengers apiece.

According to the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau, the community expects to again exceed 1 million passengers this summer. Last year was the first season that Ketchikan hosted more than a million cruise visitors.

The last big ship of the season is scheduled to depart on October 5th when the Norwegian Pearl leaves in the early afternoon. The Wilderness Explorer, though, will make one last small-ship visit on Oct. 6th, finishing off the season as it began.