First cruise ship of the season arrives in Juneau, 1.3M passengers projected for 2019

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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) — The first cruise ship of 2019 sailed into Juneau Sunday morning kicking off the cruise ship season for Southeast Alaska.

“Our cruise ship passengers have a tremendous economic impact in Juneau,” said Liz Perry, President and CEO of Travel Juneau. “There will be approximately 1.3 million cruise passengers in town this season, the McDowell group estimates that spending is right around $168 per person.”

That represents a rise of 10 percent in passenger numbers from 2018 according to Perry, who estimates that the City and Borough of Juneau will see another passenger rise of three to five percent over the next three years.

The economic impact is felt across the city, particularly in the downtown area filled with seasonal retailers, bars and restaurants. Stores sat shuttered Monday, awaiting for the next influx of passengers on Wednesday afternoon.

“It transforms our business,” said Eric Forst, the owner of the iconic Red Dog Saloon. “Our business is a very basic four or five person operation and we grow to a 40-50 person operation overnight.”

Visitors to the Red Dog Saloon are met with sawdust spread around on the floor and servers dressed in period costumes for an authentic turn of the century Alaska bar experience.

“We’re open at 9:00 am everyday. By 11:00, we’re full, and we have a line out the door most of the day until 7:00, when people start to trail off and head back to their ships,” Forst said.

CBJ coffers are also filled with dollars of people visiting Juneau — the McDowell group estimates that 25 percent of the city’s sales tax revenue comes from tourism.

“It provides a good deal of our expected city services that our residents have come to know and love,” Perry said.

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