Juneau Cruise Port

Massive Congestion Forces Popular Alaska Cruise Port to Limit Cruises

If you’ve ever been to Juneau, you are probably aware of the crowds at the cruise port. As soon as you disembark from your cruise ship, you’ll see not just your own ship, but also a number of other cruise ships docked there. Each cruise ship brings thousands of passengers to Juneau, causing massive congestion in the downtown area and at the popular Mendenhall Glacier.

In 2023, Juneau experienced a record breaking influx of 1.6 million tourists from cruise ships. This massive surge of visitors resulted in significant congestion in the downtown area. 

Cruise ships in Alaska

While the shops and restaurants were excited to see so many new customers, they were struggling to keep up with the demand. Restaurants were facing a shortage of labor, and souvenir shops were struggling to keep up with the demand for their merchandise. 

Additionally, there was a shortage of tour buses to Mendenhall Glacier, and by mid-season in 2023, all tour buses had sold out. This resulted in more tourists downtown. 

Alaska Mendenhall Glacier

For tourists unable to get a tour bus ticket to Mendenhall Glacier, many have resorted to taking the city bus. Unfortunately, this created a problem for locals since they were unable to get on the bus. There were reports of locals unable to board the bus, missing their flights, and carrying groceries unable to board the city bus!  

The overwhelming tourism in Juneau was rapidly disrupting the daily lives of local residents. As a result, Juneau’s Tourism Best Management Practice Hotline received twice as many complaints from locals as compared to the previous year.

Cruise Ship in Alaska

To address this issue, local authorities have decided to limit the number of cruise ships to 5 large ships per day starting in 2024. The first cruise ship to arrive will be Norwegian Bliss, which is scheduled to dock in Juneau in April, kicking off the 2024 Alaska cruise season. 

Despite limiting the number of cruise ships per day, the overall number of cruise ship passengers visiting Juneau is expected to remain the same. That’s why preliminary discussions are underway to limit the number of daily passengers who get off the ship, which, if approved, will take effect in 2026. 

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