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Port Ketchikan Cruise Ship Terminal Proposal

By Robert Holston


March 15, 2021
Monday AM

COVID-19 and two years of Cruise Ship cancellations have caused a “perfect-storm” scenario for reconsidering the Port Ketchikan Cruise Ship Terminal Proposal. For Ketchikan to become the “Vancouver” of the Alaska cruise ship industry, is not as far fetched as it may first appear. There are several major factors that serve as an enticement to this idea. Discussion points to follow:

#1: By-PASS CANADA. Imagine direct flights from Chicago, L.A., New York, Miami, Phoenix, Denver and Seattle. Who knows when the next Keystone Pipeline demise will cause a tit for tat situation with Canada. Ketchikan International Airport is Ideally situated on the waterfront and could accommodate high volumes of passengers to be transported by dual purpose catamarans. These “tenders” would be designed to on and off loading two decks simultaneously to expedite transfer or passengers directly from the airport to waiting cruise ships or Ketchikan’s accommodations*, attractions or transportation network.

#2: ECONOMY OF OPERATIONS by the cruise ship industry will improve dramatically by seasonally home-porting their ALASKA ships in Ketchikan, Alaska. The round trip distance for Vancouver B.C. to Skagway, Alaska and return is 1,486 NM. The round trip distance for KETCHIKAN, ALASKA to Skagway, Alaska and return to Ketchikan is 550 NM. With national and worldwide emphasis on going green, the nearly 3:1 differential shows an obvious savings advantage in fuel and other operating costs.

#3: PORT TIME will improved with all ports gaining flexibility in scheduling and increased port time opportunities. Ketchikan has suffered with port times as limiting as six hours per call for many ships each season. This has had a very negative impact on Ketchikan businesses and has severely limited cruise ship guest’s choice of activities to fit into a very short allotment of time. Guests could now choose several excursion options AND shopping.

#4: SUPPLY for cruise ships can be accommodated with barge and fuel companies that presently serve Ketchikan from Seattle……… another boost to the local & state economy.

#5: INFRASTRUCTURE and *ACCOMMODATIONS: There’s no doubt that overnight accommodations would need to be developed for cruise passengers arriving in Ketchikan a day or days prior to their cruise ship departing. Ketchikan has considerable underdeveloped land that would be suited for such use. Gravina Island has KGB owned site(s) just 10 minutes north of the airport (old Seley mill site) and Ward Cove Group has always shown interest in further developing their holdings. Ketchikan has four developed cruise ship docks and Ward Cove has two with room to expand to several more.

With nearly 40 years of residence in Ketchikan and over 30 years experience in serving the cruise line industry I realize that this short overview of the “Port Ketchikan Cruise Ship Terminal Proposal” is not an exhaustive examination of all pertinent and ancillary issues. It’s my hope that you find these ideas intriguing and worth expanding, supporting and pursuing further.


Robert B. Holston Jr.
Tourism Hospitality and Entertainment, LLC - Consulting
Ketchikan, Alaska




Editor's Note:

The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.

Received March 10, 2021 - Published March 15, 2021

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