Ketchikan’s berths III and IV are shown in this file photo. (Leila Kheiry/KRBD)

Cruise lines will have to find somewhere other than downtown Ketchikan to park their ships as they ride out the pandemic. That’s after the Ketchikan city council on Thursday unanimously rejected a proposal to allow the idled ships to tie up at the city-owned cruise ship docks.

The cruise lines approached the city’s port and harbors director, Steve Corporon, in mid-March to float the idea. Corporon asked the City Council at a March 19 meeting how to proceed — a decision this big, he said, was best left to the city’s elected officials.

Corporon laid out a series of conditions that the city could place on any ship wanting to tie up in Ketchikan — most importantly, ships with confirmed cases of COVID-19 wouldn’t be allowed to tie up, and crews would have to stay aboard. 

But if a crewmember needed medical care, the city would be bound by federal regulations to allow them to disembark.

Initially, some council members offered tentative support. They thought that allowing cruise lines to moor their ships downtown could ingratiate the city with the industry that drives much of Ketchikan’s economy.

But by Thursday, the council’s tone had changed.  They accepted the recommendation of Ketchikan’s city manager, Karl Amylon, who argued that allowing the gargantuan ships to dock would add more stress to Ketchikan residents’ lives — residents who are already facing the stressful reality of life in a pandemic. The vote was unanimous to decline the cruise lines’ request.