Tuesday,  October 3, 2023  6:46 am

New piers, a gondola and more: a look at NCL's incoming Alaska projects

New piers, a gondola and more: a look at NCL's incoming Alaska projects
Norwegian Joy at Icy Strait Point

In an effort to strengthen its position in the growing Alaska cruise market, Norwegian Cruise Line will launch a number of new developments in the state including new piers in Ketchikan and Icy Strait Point, the latter of which will also see the introduction of a new gondola system to move cruise guests and offer sightseeing opportunities.

A 30-year preferential berthing agreement with Ward Cove Dock Group, LLC, will pave the way for a new double ship pier in Ward Cove, Ketchikan, Alaska. The pier will be built to simultaneously accommodate two of Norwegian Cruise Line’s 4,000 passenger Breakaway Plus class ships and is expected to be ready for the summer 2020 season.

READ MORE: And the winner is...: NCL wins bid on Juneau waterfront lands

In addition, NCL recently won a competitive bid for the last waterfront parcel in greater Juneau, Alaska and is engaging local stakeholders, including government, business and community leaders to develop a plan which will benefit both the city and its various stakeholders as well as the cruise line. These investments follow the Company’s announcement earlier this year of its partnership with Alaska Native-owned Huna Totem Corporation to develop a second cruise pier in Icy Strait Point, Huna Totem’s world-class cruise ship destination in Hoonah, Alaska.

The Icy Strait Point development will provide more cruise passengers with access to Icy Strait’s newly upgraded retail, restaurant and shore excursion amenities, including the world’s longest ZipRider zip line, the most accessible coastal brown bear viewing platforms in Southeast Alaska, whale-watching and fishing excursions. Scheduled for completion prior to the summer 2020 Alaska cruise season, the pier will be built to accommodate Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Plus class ships. The partnership will provide the three Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ brands with preferential berthing rights in this popular port destination and allow the Company’s ships to increase calls to Icy Strait Point.

New gondolas coming to Icy Strait Point

As part of the expansion, Huna Totem Corporation is installing two gondolas and developing the upper part of Hoonah Mountain near its ZipRider attraction to offer additional experiences for visitors in 2020 in the vehicle-free Wilderness Landing. Instead of needing an estimated 72 buses to move guests around the site, travelers will be able to move through the treetops between the Historic Cannery and Wilderness Landing on the Transporter, a high-speed gondola system. The gondolas will be wheelchair- and scooter-accessible and capable of moving more than 5,600 visitors per hour in eight-person cabins.

Opening a few months later in mid-summer, a second gondola will take guests up the 1,600-foot Hoonah Mountain to the forested area around the ZipRider launch. The six-minute ride will unlock additional areas for exploration with views of icefields, the Fairweather Range and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Huna Totem Corporation will develop the wilderness expanse with new attractions for guests, including a network of walking trails; a 340-foot suspension bridge swaying over a box-canyon with a 900-foot vertical drop; and a tour departure center for bear searches, ATV adventures, helicopter flight-seeing and more will be added during the 2021 season.

In addition to its development initiatives in Alaska, NCL was awarded a much sought-after concession contract through 2029 allowing Norwegian Cruise Line to operate cruises within Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Contracts were granted based on a competitive bid process which focused on various factors and environmental commitments such as air emissions, waste and wildlife protection. This contract went into effect Oct. 1 and will enable NCL to provide premier Alaskan itinerary offerings to its guests.

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