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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Open Letter: Cruise Line Customer Service
By Jill Gates


October 03, 2011

The elected officials of Ketchikan:

As the cruise ship season wraps up for another year and with the upcoming elections, I would like to express a few concerns I have encountered working with the various Cruise Lines in my capacity of Dock Manager for The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show specifically issues that have come up over the last 5 years.

First and foremost, I would like to ask why we don t have shelter accommodations for the Ship Shore Excursion Staff as they have in all of the other ports in Southeast, Alaska. These people are here to conduct business, bring money into our town, and provide customer service to their guests. Other towns provide a small booth so that business can be conducted in a dry and warm environment. This not only helps the ship staff, but also the local tour operators who have to stand in the pouring rain to do paperwork at days end. A simple one man booth would be most welcome, especially on Dock 1 and 4.

Also, why are our city ordinances so very extreme compared to other ports in S.E.? I see every day how frustrating it is for the cruise staff to accommodate their passengers when their pre-booked tours are cancelled due to weather or their guests have lost their tickets. In all other ports the ship staff are allowed to re-issue a ticket or transfer the guest to a different tour but here in Ketchikan, we prohibit them from offering even the most basic customer service to their guests. To create a more welcoming environment to these vessels and their guests, I would propose that all ports adopt the same rules and regulations.

I have been working on the docks of Ketchikan for decades and I have heard frequently how frustrated and policed the Cruise Staff feel as they try to accommodate their passengers it is disheartening and frankly, embarrassing, that Ketchikan does not provide the same level of service as other ports. It seems we are happy to take their money, but not so happy to make them feel welcome.

Also, the current Port Security program needs an overhaul. While the crossing guards do a great job providing safety in crossing our busy streets, there must be a better way to alert guests who are jaywalking. Loudly (and often rudely) yelling Use the crosswalk , is not the answer. A more universal method of getting someone s attention, such as a whistle, would be far more effective. Whistles are used all around the world to provide public safety. When I inquired why whistles were not used, I was told that they didn t want everyone turning and looking . This makes no sense! Isn t that the reason we have safety guards - to bring attention to a possible hazard or eminent accident? And while it is challenging to hire seasonal employees here, a priority should always be good customer service skills when hiring those people that deal with the general public.

Thank you for your time and attention to these matters. It is my hope that we can work together to provide a more welcoming environment for these cruise lines that provide our town with abundant revenue year after year.


Jill Gates
Dock and Guest Relations Manager
The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show
Ketchikan, AK

About: "Dock and Guest relations Manager at The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show"

Received September 29, 2011 - Published October 03, 2011


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