Cruise Town, Season 2, Ep. 4: The season that wasn’t

A wet Welcome to Juneau sign, taken on June 3, 2020.
A wet Welcome to Juneau sign, taken on June 3, 2020. (Photo by Jennifer Pemberton / KTOO)


In some ways, 2020 was taken to a whole new level in Juneau. Our isolated location here meant that we were somewhat protected from the coronavirus, but as of mid-December, we have had just over 1,000 cases of COVID-19 in the city. Five residents have died. We spent a few weeks in April hunkered down in our houses. Schools have been closed since spring break. We’ve already worn through our original masks.

But that’s stuff almost everyone has been through. We also saw approximately 600 fewer cruise ships and more than a million fewer tourists. That is to say, we had practically none.

And that means that a whole lotta money that normally flows through our economy, just dried up. Those giant ships bring jobs, sales tax revenue and cold hard cash to our town for six months every year. There are parts of Juneau’s downtown that have been boarded up for over a year now.

It’s been impossible all year to predict what would happen next. In May, we couldn’t imagine what an entire year of off-season would be like. It ended up feeling like summer never came.

But, how bad was it? Will the industry bounce back? Will Juneau bounce back? Will there be a season 3 of Cruise Town?

Adelyn Baxter and Jennifer Pemberton discuss the cruise season that wasn’t and what Cruise Towns might expect for next year.

Jennifer Pemberton

Managing Editor, KTOO

I bring stories from the community into the KTOO newsroom so that all of our reporting matters. I want to hear my community’s struggles and its wins reflected in our coverage. Does our reporting reflect your experience in Juneau?

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