Another rockslide has caused damage to the popular White Pass Railroad Dock in Skagway, Alaska. The incident occurred at approximately 5 p.m. local time on Wednesday, August 3, 2022, while multiple cruise ships were in port.
No injuries were reported, and there was no damage to cruise ships. Norwegian Encore was docked at the pier at the time.
Rockslide on North Side
The rockslide, described by witnesses as “small but noisy,” occurred on the north side of the dock area and dropped significant debris. This was in the same general region where a larger slide happened on June 23. That earlier slide caused damage to the pier and minor cosmetic damage to Discovery Princess, which was docked at the time.
No cruise ships were damaged in the most recent slide, but the security booth on the pier was impacted. Emergency vehicles responded in minutes just in case their services were necessary.
Norwegian Encore was docked at the pier at the time the slide occurred, having called on Skagway as part of the vessel’s current 7-night roundtrip sailing from Seattle, Washington. Skagway was the ship’s second port of call after Juneau on August 2.
Out of an abundance of caution, the dock was temporarily closed and the roughly 1,800 guests returning to Norwegian Encore were tendered back to the ship instead of walking along the dock. Near the end of the day as the ship was preparing to depart, the last few guests were able to board via the dock.
The 167,800-gross-ton Norwegian Encore has a guest capacity of 3,998 at double occupancy.
Holland America Line’s MS Noordam assisted with the tendering. Noordam is currently sailing a 7-night one-way voyage from Whittier, Alaska to Vancouver, Canada.
No damage was done to Norwegian Encore, and the Breakaway Plus-class vessel has continued on its way with no delays in its itinerary. Similarly, Noordam was undamaged and had no delays when departing Skagway that evening.
In addition to Norwegian Encore and MS Noordam, Princess Cruises’ Majestic Princess and Royal Caribbean International’s Radiance of the Seas were also visiting Skagway at the time of the rockslide, Because these ships were docked in different areas well away from the White Pass Railroad Dock, there were no changes to their operations.
Skagway is one of the most popular cruise destinations in Alaska, offering incredible shore tour options as well as fun local culture to explore and experience.
Slope Condition Deemed Unstable
After the June 23 slide, the geotechnical and environmental consulting firm Shannon & Wilson was asked to examine the area adjacent to the dock. The firm examined past slide events, the current condition of the slopes, and mitigation efforts already in place, before determining “significant” risk for future rockslides.
The full dock was temporarily closed while additional safety measures were put in place and the slope was scaled to lower the risk of additional slides. After adjustments were made, including changes to where cruise ship gangways could be placed, the dock was reopened on July 5.
The rockslide risk clearly remains, however, and additional dock developments are underway in Skagway to accommodate cruise ships in safer berths.
At this time, there are no reported changes to cruise ship itineraries due to this most recent slide. This is the busiest time of the short Alaska cruise season, and ships are visiting Skagway every day.
Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Viking, Silversea Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and other lines all have port visits scheduled for Skagway in August.
Guests booked on upcoming voyages should stay in contact with their cruise line to confirm port visits and other itinerary modifications, particularly if Skagway is on the schedule.