Hoonah’s Icy Strait Point plans new dock for megaships

Hoonah is on track to add a second, larger cruise ship dock to accommodate the growing number of megaships visiting Southeast Alaska.

More than a hundred cruise ships are attracted annually to Icy Strait Point, a former seafood cannery redeveloped by Huna Totem Corporation into a seasonal entertainment complex.

“The need for the second dock is to really accommodate the growing demand for cruise lines and guests who want to experience the authentic Alaska here in Southeast,” the village corporation’s CEO Russell Dick said. “And you have more ships coming. You have larger ships coming, and we need to ensure that we’ve got the infrastructure to handle those ships and those guests.”

The new dock will be built in partnership with Norwegian Cruise Lines. It will better accommodate Norwegian’s megaships — the Joy and the Bliss — that carry about 5,700 passengers and crew. Currently, cruise ships tie up at a purpose-built dock completed in 2015; passengers are also brought from ships tendered offshore.

Icy Strait Point’s Vice President of Operations Tyler Hickman said the second dock will be in a forested area about a half-mile farther from town than the existing dock. That will help spread out passengers getting off the ships.

“We have the ability to develop it in a respectful way, that all of the guests are going to have this wilderness experience without feeling crowded,” Hickman said by phone.

The new 500-foot floating dock would be built on city-owned tidelands. The Hoonah City Council tentatively agreed to a 25-year lease at its Tuesday meeting. But financial terms haven’t been settled; they are pending an appraisal of the land.

“It’s an important project for sure,” Hoonah City Administrator Dennis Gray said Thursday. “It’s going to help us secure our economic future by having more tourism.”

Huna Totem Corporation said it plans to release further details about its partnership with Norwegian Cruise Lines and the new dock next month at public meetings in Hoonah.