May 19, 2011 |

First of 23 cruise ship dockings Wednesday

The Haines cruise ship season starts Wednesday with the all-day docking of the 1,465-passenger Holland America ship Zaandam.

Tourism director Tanya Carlson said she’s hoping spinoff from the cable TV show "Gold Rush: Alaska" will help boost interest in the town. The program, filmed last summer in the Chilkat Valley’s Porcupine mining district, was a hit for the Discovery Channel last winter.

A pre-season party Carlson hosted last week included appearances from some of the reality-show miners.

The Zaandam and 1,260-passenger Statendam will arrive on alternate weeks for 18 dockings through Sept. 21, from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

There will be five Tuesday dockings during the summer. Princess Cruise Lines’ Sea Princess, with 1,950 passengers, will dock June 14 and Aug. 23 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The exclusive O’Rion II, a 100-passenger ship from Australia, docks 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 16. Oceania’s Regatta, a 600-passenger vessel, will dock July 5, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Crystal Symphony, a 922-passenger ship, docks July 26 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Carlson said cruise traffic is down from last year, due to the loss of Cruise West dockings following the company’s bankruptcy, and due to the loss of a Holland America ship that last summer docked here on alternate Mondays. That vessel is deployed this summer to northern ports, she said.

Haines also will see new passengers this year from a Walt Disney ship docking in Skagway every Friday. Passengers off the ship take tours in Haines.

The addition of a ferry vessel by Klukwan, Inc. may help boost visitation this summer, she said. "Anything that increases the capacity between the towns is a good thing."

Carlson said she hoped to see additional ship dockings in Haines in 2013 from "Backroads Alaska," an effort aimed at marketing second-tier ports like Haines, Sitka and Hoonah to cruise lines.