Small ship will dock weekly
Haines is scheduled to get up to 10 dockings of the cruise ship American Spirit this summer, a 100-passenger vessel making its debut in Alaska. It tied up at Port Chilkoot Dock Monday.
American Cruise Lines, which operates five other ships in places like the Eastern seaboard and the Columbia, Hudson, Mississippi rivers, is bringing the single-hulled vessel. It makes seven-night tours of northern Southeast, including Petersburg, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Tracy Arm, and Hoonah.
The ship will make weekly dockings alternating between an overnight docking from 10 p.m. Monday to noon Tuesday and a day visit, 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays.
“This is great news,” said tour operator Joe Ordonez. “Haines is a perfect fit for small ships and people who want to see a real Alaska town and more than just jewelry shops.”
Between Exploration Cruise Lines in the 1980s and continuing with Cruise West vessels for about 20 years, Haines has a history of attracting small ships, Ordonez said.
Combined, the American Spirit dockings and three scheduled stops by 40-passenger catamaran from Sitka-based Alaska Dream Cruises appear to be a revival of that business, said Ordonez, who offers personalized tours to small ships. “It was a lost link. It’s great to see it back.”
Small ships cater to wealthy clients, often with discerning tastes, Ordonez said. “Let’s hope that translates into some business for the artists and the gift shops.” The weeklong cruise starts at $5,320.
Borough tourism director Tanya Carlson said the boat represents the town’s only overnight docking. “The company has been around for a while. They were on the East Coast and Great Lakes. They just recently moved west. This is their first year in Alaska.
“We’re thrilled to be there,” said Ashley Turney, shore excursion and entertainment coordination for American Cruise Lines.