Due to the closure of the forward berth of the White Pass Railroad Dock in Skagway, Princess Cruises has removed the port from 10 upcoming sailings. At the same time, the cruise line has confirmed that it will continue to visit the popular port of call for the remaining 21 calls already scheduled for the rest of 2022 Alaska season.
Skagway Canceled for 10 Cruises
With just two months remaining in the Alaska sailing season, Princess Cruises is removing Skagway from 10 upcoming itineraries. This is due to the closure of the forward berth of the White Pass Railroad Dock, the only viable docking position for the cruise line’s Royal-class vessels, the largest ships in the Princess Cruises fleet.
Rather than calling on Skagway, each cruise will instead substitute a different Alaskan port of call.
The impacted cruises include the Majestic Princess (August 23 and September 6 sailing dates), which will call on Icy Strait Point. Similarly, the line’s newest ship, Discovery Princess, (August 25 and September 1 cruise dates) will also visit Icy Strait Point rather than Skagway.
Royal Princess will now visit Haines instead of Skagway for the August 16 and August 30 sailings.
Discovery Princess will visit Sitka rather than Skagway on the cruises setting sail on August 11, September 8, and September 22, as will the Royal Princess cruise setting sail on September 13.
These itinerary adjustments have been improvised based on sailing date, port schedules, and other ports of call on each itinerary to give guests the best possible experience for their Last Frontier adventures.
Why Not Tender?
A question guests may be asking is, why can’t Princess Cruises arrange tendering at Skagway instead of outright canceling the port of call?
While tendering from the aft berth may be suitable option for small vessels, the Royal-class ships – including Majestic Princess, Discovery Princess, and Royal Princess – are the largest in Princess Cruises’ fleet. Each ship weighs from 143,000-145,000 gross tons, with a guest capacity of roughly 3,600 passengers.
If the ships are booked beyond double capacity, which is likely given the popularity of Alaska cruises for family summer vacations, each ship could be carrying as many as 4,000 passengers or more.
Tendering takes much more time than gangway debarkation as guests must board smaller boats and be taken to an appropriate dock for safe debarkation. This would dramatically impact the efficiency of shore tours at the port, and could cause uncomfortable overcrowding in different locations as guests wait for tenders.
Furthermore, depending on what other ships are scheduled to dock at other locations in Skagway on specific days, there may not be available space for safe tendering.
The White Pass Railroad Dock has been closed due to several rockslides this season. The first, on June 23, caused slight cosmetic damage to Discovery Princess, which was docked at the aft berth (now closed) at the time.
Two smaller rockslides occurred on August 3 and August 5, despite emergency mitigation measures that had been put in place immediately following the earlier slide. Both small slides caused minor damage to dock structures, but no injuries were reported and there was no damage to cruise ships.
After the most recent slide, the decision was made to close the dock completely for the remainder of the 2022 season as additional repairs are made and the slope is further stabilized. The dock had already been temporarily closed following the June 23 slide, but was reopened on July 5.
“It’s a tremendous problem,” Skagway mayor Andrew Cremata said at a public meeting on Saturday, August 6. “I guarantee you, it is one we’re going to solve before next season because we don’t have any other choice.”
Ships Still Visiting
All is not lost for Skagway this cruise season, however. While the diversions of larger ships will undoubtedly have a dramatic impact on the region’s economy, smaller ships are continuing to visit the port and dock at other locations.
This includes Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess, Crown Princess, and Ruby Princess. All three ships are Grand class, significantly smaller than the Royal class ships. Grand class ships weigh from 107,000-113,000 gross tons, with passenger capacities from 2,600-3,080 at double occupancy.
In addition Princess Cruises, other ships from Disney Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, and other cruise lines continue to visit Skagway, though further itinerary changes may be forthcoming.
Guests booked on sailings featuring Skagway should stay in touch with their cruise line for itinerary updates or alterations.