Royal Caribbean is currently sailing with two ships in Alaska. Serenade of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas have recently resumed operations in the Northern state, making it an important area for the cruise line. This is further confirmed by the cruise line’s significant investments in infrastructure projects in the area.
One such project is the Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal dock expansion. Once a tiny dock that barely fit one cruise ship, the expansion, which Royal Caribbean partly funds, means two Neo-Panamax ships capable of 4300 passengers each can berth here simultaneously. The arrival of Ovation of the Seas marked the completion of the first phase of the project.
Sitka, Alaska residents welcomed the 168,666-gross ton Ovation of the Seas on August 17. The Quantum-class vessel, which can carry 4180 passengers, is on her first official cruise after sailing from Seattle on August 13.
Her arrival in Sitka marked the completion of the first phase of the Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal dock expansion. The expansion of the dock means that two large cruise ships can berth at the dock simultaneously, which was impossible with the previous version.
Earlier this season, Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas and Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam both docked in Sitka at the same time.
The expansion of the dock is only a tiny part of the general overhaul of the area. Soon a new terminal building will be opened, which will provide a welcoming arrival experience for cruise ship guests.
The financing for the expansion of the dock and the new terminal building comes in part from Royal Caribbean Group and Ceres Terminals Inc. (one of the largest terminal operators in the world). The terminal and dock are majority-owned by Halibut Point Marine Services, a Sitka family-owned business.
Halibut Point Marine Services owner Chris McGraw: “The expanded dock and terminal positions Sitka as a premier destination in Alaska, opening up additional opportunities for our community. Tourism has always been a staple of our economy – from retail to guided excursions and dining on the freshest Alaska seafood; and now, we’ll be able to share what makes Sitka special with guests aboard the newest, largest ships visiting Alaska.”
While there is no denying there are significant benefits for the cruise lines to have modern and comfortable docks and terminals in the ports of call, the cruise lines are investing heavily in infrastructure upgrades that benefit the local economy most of all.
Last week Cruise Hive reported about Ice Point Strait, where Norwegian Cruise Line has invested in a new dock and cable car. Royal Caribbean’s investment in the area signifies a sustainable approach from the cruise line in empowering the local population:
Joshua Carroll, vice president, Destination Development, Royal Caribbean Group:
“As we look beyond this year’s partial Alaska season, we are more optimistic than ever that our guests will absolutely love the authentic experiences Sitka offers with its rich culture and awe-inspiring wilderness. This partnership exemplifies our strategy to support sustainable development that is majority-owned by Alaskans to bring maximum economic impact to the local community.”
The new terminal and dock are not the only investments the cruise company is making in the area. A further focus is on transportation capacity, visitor traffic flow, and other opportunities, for example, more tours and destination experiences like kayak tours and the introduction of Alaska Coach Tours.
Of course, Sitka is already well known for many activities that guests can do in the area, such as whale watching, visiting the beautiful historical town, observing grizzly bears in their natural environment, and visiting the Alaska Raptor Center. Read about everything there is to do in Sitka right here.