Living with Cruise Ships (Part 1)

By , June 2, 2018

Recently, Judy, a blog follower, asked about cruise ships in our view shed.

She asked: “… how do the cruise ships interfere with your Internet reception? [I sent her the link to The Mysteries of Cellular Internet Explained.] And how often do the ships pass by your homestead cabin: every day, several ships? Can you actually wave at the passengers on the top deck of the ships? And do you look at the cruise ships as an intrusion and/or a welcome from civilization?”
—Curious Judy

I know a post cue when I read it, and I blew Judy’s questions off until I could write this post, and take some new photos of cruise ships. And, I see right now, this will have to be a multi-part post. Cruise ships impact our lives a lot!

Celebrity Solstice in Lynn Canal

The Celebrity Solstice heads south past our homestead (Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

Also, I should point out that this post series represents my personal opinions on and understanding of the cruise industry. It may not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, or statistics of Alaska’s tourist industry!

Ironically, I had to delay posting for a day. We used up last month’s bandwidth yesterday; if it were winter, getting knocked back to dial up speed wouldn’t bother much. But, with a few cruise ships in the area, I couldn’t upload photos with the double hit of restricted bandwidth and cruise ship overloads.

Cruise ships sail up and down the upper Lynn Canal in the summer to reach two tourist destinations. I’m not sure, but I think Haines may be the least visited Southeast Alaskan town cruise ships consider a port-of-call. Skagway, about 30 miles up Lynn Canal from Haines, is surely one of the most visited.

The difference? Haines doesn’t allow cruise lines to open their own stores in town. These stores, almost exclusively jewelry shops,  offer high end  (i.e. jewel encrusted) “souvenirs” to tourists, and are virtually identical wherever they’re found, whether in Skagway or Juneau, or the Caribbean.

This means we get fewer dockings scheduled during the seas. However, those who do visit Haines find a more authentic Alaskan town than they see in communities where several ships can dock at the same time. The majority of people visitors see on the streets of those towns are other tourists, not Alaskans.

Noordam in Lynn Canal

The Noordam, one of Haines’s Wednesday ships. Once a “large” cruise ship, this older vessel is now probably considered mid-sized (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

As a result, we enjoy living in our town without constant, population-swelling floods of  cruise ship passengers on a daily basis. Haines gets one large(ish) ship a week, with a few extras sprinkled throughout the season. Other cruise ships visit, but they’re so small they don’t cause problems for most people (see It Starts . . . .).

That’s the basic setting (see also Floating Cities).  How it effects us varies widely. In future posts, I’ll answer Judy’s questions specifically.



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