Caveat: Cruise Ship #1

Today was in fact a rather historic one, here on this remote Southeast Alaskan island. We were visited by our first cruise ship, ever. Although Jan alleges that in the 40’s or 50’s a cruise ship attempted to visit the island and ran into a rock trying to get into one of the harbors, and because of that the cruise companies became afraid to come back. That story has the feel of urban (rural?) myth, but it’s amusing.

The cruise ship that visited was actually surprisingly quirky. It was not one of your standard 3000-passenger behemoths, such as visit Ketchikan or Juneau each summer. Instead it was a “long-distance” cruise. I met passengers who had been on the boat for 3 months, having boarded in Sydney, Australia.

This unusual long-term aspect of the passenger list was very good for our little island – because unlike the coddled and generally pretty lazy passengers of the mass cruises, these passengers were curious and quite adventurous. During their 8 hour stop at Klawock, many boarded the small circulator buses that the tribal groups were running, and so despite the boat being parked in Klawock, our gift shop in Craig (7 miles away) saw over 50 tourists who we’d never have otherwise seen. So it was good for our business, and the passengers we met were all quite interesting to talk to.

It was an international group, too – as could be expected. I met more British, Australians, Germans and even a few Chinese, than Americans. I even met a posh couple from Mexico City, and impressed them with my Mexico-City-accented Spanish, which, though rusty, still serves me quite well, nearly 40 years after my having lived there. ¡El gringo achilangado habla de nuevo!

Driving north to Klawock after work (I went to pick someone up at the Hollis Ferry), I just happened to be driving by the Klawock harbor channel in the moment when the boat was departing. So I pulled over and took a picture.

A modest-sized long-distance cruise ship departing Klawock through the Klawock channel, with some silhouetted trees on the left and a treed island in the background

If this business of hosting cruise ships is successful, it could transform the island. I’m a bit skeptical that the powers-that-be (the businesses undertaking the enterprise is a consortium of tribal corporations) can pull this off. Our island is a bit too chaotically libertarian, in cultural terms, for such projects. But we shall see.

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