The spread of the coronavirus in Southeast Asia is causing a trickle-down effect in many areas of the world, including Kodiak. Several cruise ships scheduled to visit this summer will not be coming after all due, in part, to the outbreak.
That’s according to Aimee Williams, who is the executive director of the Kodiak Island Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
“When the cruise ship schedule comes out, it’s always a draft and so it’s always subject to change. But in the last two weeks, we found out about a five that are not coming,” she said.
She said the ships involved are at either end of the season, a time when they normally stop in Kodiak while transiting back from or going to Asia. They stop here largely because it’s on the way.
This season, because of the virus, the cruise companies are cutting the Asian trips short. So the ships will already be on the west coast somewhere when it’s time to head to southeast for the summer season.
“Almost all of them are out of Southeast Alaska. And they don’t come this far north or west, they have no reason to come through here. So they kind of come through here just as they’re repositioning, and then they go do their cruises down in Southeast Alaska and that Inside Passage area, and then sometimes they will come back through on their way back to their Asian market,” she said.
“So the cancellations that we’ve seen so far this year are people repositioning into the market, and then we just had one cancel in late August that would have been moving on the way out of the market. And so it just those typical shoulder season repositioning are the ones that are canceling right now.”
This year’s cruise list was already shorter than the 28 that visited last year. Now the list is down to roughly half of last year — 15 visiting ships.
And, while the loss will likely hit Kodiak’s small downtown businesses the hardest, Williams points out that cruise passengers are only a part of the summer visitor equation.
“Just because we don’t have cruise ships coming doesn’t mean like no tourists are coming here because there’s a lot of tourism that’s not cruise ship base… I don’t want to forget that this will be a significant reduction in cruise ship tourists, but we still have a lot of other people who come here for all the other wonderful things that Kodiak has to offer,” she said.
Williams adds that the cruise ship industry is being extra cautious with the coronavirus in an effort to protect passengers.