This week marks the start of Kodiak’s first cruise ship season since 2019 — 565 passengers will be on board the Roald Amundsen when it docks at Pier 2 in Kodiak on Thursday.
Aimee Williams is the executive director of the visitors center Discover Kodiak.
“This is a good sign that life is returning back to normal and tourism is returning back to normal.” she said.
Kodiak’s cruise ship season tends to look a little different compared to other parts of the state, Williams says. The ships tend to be smaller than the ones that frequent Southeast Alaska — and there’s a lot less of them.
Thirty large and small cruise ships called in Kodiak back in 2019. That was a record year. This year, just 10 cruise ships will visit the island. Juneau saw 70 large and small cruise ships over the course of its shortened season in 2021, by comparison.
Fifteen cruises were originally on the schedule released by Alaska Maritime Agencies in March, but that number has gone up and down due the ongoing pandemic and invasion of Ukraine.
Williams says that while cruise ship tourism gives Kodiak businesses a boost, its downtown was spared from some of the economic hardships faced by other coastal communities when COVID stopped the cruises from coming.
“When they weren’t here for the last two years, we weren’t devastated, and we didn’t lose businesses because cruise ships weren’t in town,” Williams said. “It’s exciting, and those businesses that are going to make money I’m sure are very excited, but we don’t have to change our posture a lot for when there’s a cruise ship here or when there’s not.”
The Roald Amundsen will continue on to Dutch Harbor after it stops in Kodiak this week, and it will visit twice again in August. Six cruise ships will call in Kodiak throughout September including the Nieuw Amsterdam, which has a carrying capacity of more than 2,000 passengers.
“When those big ships come, anything that’s over like 900 people, we kind of have to change the way we do business downtown,” said Williams.
Kodiak’s cruise ship season wraps up in early October, when the nearly 700-passenger Regatta calls in Kodiak on its voyage from Los Angeles to Tokyo.