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TravelNew cruise port opens in Alaska — sort of

New cruise port opens in Alaska — sort of

Big news, cruise fans: There’s a new port for you to visit when cruising to Alaska — at least, that’s the hype from tourism officials.

The tiny village of Klawock, Alaska (population 700), this week celebrated the arrival of the 458-passenger Seabourn Odyssey, the first cruise ship to use a new temporary floating tender dock to access the destination.

Dubbed Port Klawock, the temporary dock and an adjacent welcome tent, also temporary, are being touted as “Alaska’s newest cruise port.” But it’s new with an asterisk. The temporary tender dock and welcome tent may be new, but the village of Klawock has been receiving small cruise ships for years at a different docking location.

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Small-ship cruise specialist Alaskan Dream Cruises has long had Klawock as a featured stop on its sailings.

The new floating tender dock for Klawock was built onto an old timber loading dock at Klawock Island, which is just across a waterway from the village. The timber dock traditionally has been used by a local logging company.

The dock will allow bigger cruise vessels, such as Seabourn Odyssey, to visit Klawock. The Alaskan Dream Cruises vessels that have brought tourists to the town in the past are considerably smaller.

For now, Port Klawock amounts to just a temporary tender dock and a temporary white welcome tent, seen here in the distance behind the 458-passenger Seabourn Odyssey. PORT KLAWOCK

As I’ve seen firsthand on an Alaskan Dream cruise to Klawock, the village doesn’t have a whole lot of attractions for visitors. However, the Alaska Native corporations that are backing the dock project plan more tourist development for the future.

The new Port Klawock facilities are being developed by Na-Dena, a joint venture between the Alaska Native corporations Huna Totem Corporation and Doyon Limited, and Klawock Heenya Corporation, the Native village corporation of Klawock.

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Huna Totem Corporation was the indigenous-owned entity behind the development of Icy Strait Point, an Alaska port destination near Glacier Bay National Park. The company started out small two decades ago when developing Icy Strait Point but eventually transformed the destination into a major tourist hub with food and drink outlets, a museum, wildlife tours and such fun-focused amusements as the world’s largest ZipRider zip line attraction. In recent years, it added a ski resort-like gondola system to move people around.

For now, the tour offerings for cruisers visiting Klawock are relatively limited, and cruise lines aren’t planning to send many ships to the destination.

The new floating tender dock at Port Klawock welcomes a tender from Seabourn Odyssey on Monday. PORT KLAWOCK
Local officials held a ceremony Monday inside a new welcoming tent to mark the opening of Port Klawock. PORT KLAWOCK

Passengers arriving on Seabourn Odyssey on Monday had the choice of taking a shuttle into Klawock or the nearby town of Craig to walk around or heading off on one of a handful of shore excursions.

The shore excursions included a kayak outing on a local lake and a boat ride in search of humpback whales and sea otters.

A tour of Klawock’s totem carving shed and nearby Klawock Totem Park was also an option.

Related: The 6 best Alaska shore excursions

For all of 2024, just six ship calls are planned for the new dock, including the visit by Seabourn Odyssey this week.

In addition to a second call by Seabourn Odyssey in June, the port will be visited twice later this year by Oceania Cruises’ 670-passenger Regatta and receive two visits from Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 750-passenger Seven Seas Explorer.

The big ships that most vacationers take to Alaska, such as Royal Caribbean’s 4,905-passenger Quantum of the Seas, won’t be stopping at the port.

On the Pacific side of Prince of Wales Island, not far from the tourist town of Ketchikan, Klawock is one of Alaska’s Native Tlingit villages.

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