Ship sail

Kodiak will see its first cruise ship in over 2 years this week

View from the Near Island Bridge. (Photo by Mitch Borden/KMXT)

This week marks the start of Kodiak’s first cruise ship season since 2019 – 565 passengers will be on board the Roald Amundsen when it docks at Pier 2 in Kodiak on Thursday.

Aimee Williams is the Executive Director of the Discover Kodiak Visitor Center.

“It’s a good sign that life is getting back to normal and tourism is getting back to normal.” she says.

Kodiak’s cruise season tends to be a little different than other parts of the state, Williams says. The ships tend to be smaller than those that frequent Southeast Alaska – and there are far fewer.

Thirty large and small cruise ships called at Kodiak in 2019. It was a banner year. This year, only 10 cruise ships will visit the island. Juneau saw 70 large and small cruise ships during its shortened 2021 season, by comparison.

Fifteen cruises were originally on the schedule released by Alaskan Shipping Agencies in March, but that number has gone up and down due to the ongoing pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine.

Williams says while cruise ship tourism is giving Kodiak businesses a boost, its downtown has been spared some of the economic hardship other coastal communities faced when COVID kept cruises from coming.

“When they weren’t there for two years, we weren’t devastated and we didn’t lose business because the cruise ships weren’t in town,” Williams said. “It’s exciting, and the companies that are going to make money, I’m sure, are very excited, but we don’t have to change our posture much when there’s a cruise ship here or when there’s there isn’t.”

The Roald Amundsen will continue to Dutch Harbor after calling at Kodiak this week, and will return twice in August. Six cruise ships will call at Kodiak throughout September, including the Nieuw Amsterdam, which has a capacity of more than 2,000 passengers.

“When these big ships come in, anything over 900 people, we kind of have to change the way we do business downtown,” Williams said.

Kodiak’s cruise ship season ends in early October, when the nearly 700-passenger regatta stops at Kodiak on its journey from Los Angeles to Tokyo.