New Alaska Dock Breaks Apart, Port Suffers Unexpected Setback

The Skagway dock has suffered a repair setback before it is even installed, but how will the 2024 Alaska sailing season be impacted?

A new cruise dock float under construction for the popular port of Skagway was supposed to be delivered on February 14, but unfortunately, was delayed by poor weather and suffered surprising damage en route to Skagway as it broke into three pieces.

Fortunately, the damage is able to be repaired, but how will this potentially impact cruises for the 2024 Alaska sailing season?

New Skagway Dock Damaged

Months before it sees its first cruise ship – and even before it’s installed at the port – the new dock for Skagway has suffered damage. The cruise dock float, which has been constructed by Transpac Marinas Inc. in Anacortes, Washington, was being transported to Skagway when it broke into three pieces.

The dock float is a critical part of the infrastructure for the dock where ore is loaded for shipping transport, and is the location where many cruise ships dock when visiting Skagway – the White Pass Railroad Dock.

According to KHNS FM, the float was being transported from Anacortes to Skagway on schedule when poor weather slowed its progress near Ketchikan. Shortly after the float was able to resume its journey on Monday, February 19, it broke into three pieces.

Skagway’s Borough Manager Brad Ryan commented on the event and how surprising the incident has been.

“[It was] very unexpected in the sense we thought they’d made most of the big crossings, the big wider crossings,” he said. “Surely by the time you get to Ketchikan, we were all feeling pretty good about it.”

All three pieces of the float were able to be recovered and towed back to Ketchikan for assessment and repairs.

Repairs Possible

Fortunately, while the damage is unexpected, it ought to be able to be repaired successfully. Ryan noted that sourcing the metal plate for the new flanges and pipe should be possible, depending on how quickly the manufacturing can be accomplished.

Ore Dock Construction in Skagway
Ore Dock Construction in Skagway (Photo Credit: Port of Skagway)

“There’s always some caveats to that, you know, supply chain and those kinds of things. But they’re working on that already. And so, we’re working under that timeframe that we think we can still get it on before the first cruise ship,” he said.

Costs of the repairs have not yet been determined, but various insurance companies are communicating about the incident. At this time, no timeline for repairs has been announced.

Will Cruises Be Impacted?

The first ship scheduled to visit Skagway this year is Norwegian Jewel on Friday, April 26, followed by both Carnival Spirit and Carnival Miracle on Saturday, April 27 and Holland America Line’s Koningsdam on Tuesday, April 30.

The full season picks up rapidly in May, however, when more than 90 ship calls are planned to Skagway from various cruise lines, including Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean International, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea, Disney Cruise Line, and more.

Read Also: Ideal Things to Do in Skagway, Alaska

Cruise Ships Docked Next to Rocks in Skagway
Photo Credit: Iv Nikolny / Shutterstock

At this time, it is unknown whether or not the extended repairs for the dock will impact cruises, though local officials are hopeful there will be no significant changes necessary and ships will be able to visit as planned.

Skagway Mayor Sam Bass said that he and others involved in the project “will work to develop alternative options if that becomes necessary.”

The White Pass Railroad Dock was damaged by multiple rockslides in 2022, which led to its partial closure and changes in cruise ship schedules not only for the remainder of 2022, but also through much of 2023 while different mitigation measures were put in place and repairs were completed.

Because the full dock was not available in 2023 as work was underway, many larger ships – such as Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas – were rerouted to alternative ports of call.

Hopefully, this latest setback will not significantly impact the 2024 sailing season and eager cruise guests can enjoy the amazing Last Frontier destination with ease.

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