The Town of Skagway Alaska has posted the cruise ship schedule for 2013. It shows an expected 800,000 visitors coming into Port via cruise ship. This is a lot of belly buttons for a town of 920 people.
The port of Skagway is a popular stop for cruise ships, and the tourist trade is a big part of the business of Skagway. The White Pass and Yukon Route narrow gauge railroad, part of the area’s mining past, is now in operation purely for the tourist trade and runs throughout the summer months. Skagway is also part of the setting for Jack London’s book The Call of the Wild.
In 2013, a total of 27 cruise ships will stop by Skagway 391 times, bringing the visitors north to see Alaska. Actually, Skagway ranked tied with Anchorage at 3rd in Alaska cruise ship destinations in 2011, with Ketchikan ranked second and Juneau first.
The Alaska cruise ship traffic is still in recovery mode. The peak of over 1,033,000 passengers was reached in 2008, but dropped precipitously with the recession. The 800,000 cruise ship passengers in Skagway represents a recovery towards the numbers last seen 5 years ago.
Air traffic and ‘rubber tire’ traffic was down from 2011 to 2012, according to the preliminary stats from the State Dept. of Commerce. These modes of transport account for about 2/3rds the numbers of cruise passenger numbers. Last year the Whitepass and Yukon Route Railway carried 400,000 passengers to the Whitepass Summit.
The 800,000 cruise ship visitors figure is a bullish sign for the Skagway, Yukon and Alaska tourism sectors. Cruise ship visitors spent an average of $632 in state according to the 2011 data. The 2011 visitor exit survey data show 97% with a positive visitor experience.