Passengers from the mega ship Norwegian Joy disembark on May 16 at Ketchikan’s Berth 3 downtown. (KRBD photo by Leila Kheiry)

Alaska cruise ship visitors are expected to break new records for the fifth straight year. That’s according to an industry trade group whose projections for 2020 were announced Wednesday at Southeast Conference in Sitka.

Meilani Schijvens of Rain Coast Data said that at least 1.44 million passengers are expected next season. 

“So that’s an increase of 6 percent,” she said. “So not a huge increase that we saw in 2019. But still a really healthy growth in terms of total number of passengers coming to the region.”

The cruise ship Noordam brought close to 2,000 passengers to Haines on Sept. 20, 2017. It and other ships carried more than 1 million passengers this summer, helping increase the region's tourism economy. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)
The cruise ship Noordam in Haines in 2017. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska)

Between 2018 and 2019 cruise ship traffic increased by around 200,000 passengers across Southeast Alaska.

Next year 10 new ships and 29 additional port calls are expected. The top destinations are Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway. But the biggest leap will be for Hoonah whose private Icy Strait Point entertainment complex is expected to more than double its visitors over two years.

The projections come from Cruise Lines International Association Alaska. The figures are for passengers and do not include crew.

Alaska port calls account for about 5 percent of global cruise ship traffic.

The Southeast Conference is an organization of regional government and business leaders in Southeast Alaska. Its annual meeting runs through this Friday in Sitka.