In a move to mitigate the impact of burgeoning cruise ship traffic, Juneau, Alaska, has reached an agreement with the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) in Alaska to set a daily passenger limit.

Signing a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on May 4, 2024, the agreement will manage the number of visitors arriving in the capital city by cruise.

The agreement, effective immediately, limits the number of cruise ship passengers to 16,000 per day, with a reduced limit of 12,000 on Saturdays.

Cruise Passengers Visiting Juneau (Photo Credit: Jillian Cain Photography)

The MOA is based on recommendations from the Visitor Industry Task Force (VITF) in 2021 and includes an annual meeting to optimize the schedule of cruise ships calling on the city, as well as a chance to review visitor numbers and discuss community goals.

“The cruise industry is vital to our local economy, and we need to improve our infrastructure and grow our tour capacity to create a great guest experience and reduce impacts on residents,” said Alexandra Pierce, Juneau visitor industry director.

She added, “With this agreement, we are committing to a cap to manage our busiest days and to meet annually to ensure that our visitor numbers remain sustainable. This work is difficult, time-consuming, and extremely important for our community.”

Added CLIA Vice President of Government and Community Relations Renee Limoge Reeve, “This latest agreement reflects the industry’s ongoing commitment to work with CBJ and the residents of Juneau to deliver win-win partnerships. We’ve heard the community’s concerns and will continue to partner with CBJ to improve the experience of residents and visitors alike.”

Juneau’s decision to limit cruise ship passengers is in response to the record-breaking influx of 1.6 million visitors in 2023, a 23% increase over pre-pandemic highs recorded in 2019. 

The City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ) and CLIA initially voluntarily imposed a cap of five ships per day for 2024 ahead of the start of the 2024 cruise season, which launched on May 24 with the arrival of Princess Cruises’ 2,600-passenger Grand Princess on a 14-night voyage.

The official MOA, effective May 4, sets out several commitments from CLIA, including providing quarterly cruise schedules with detailed narratives on changes and capacities for each ship planning to call in Juneau and drafting schedules at least 18 months in advance. 

Under the agreement, the cruise lines will minimize offloading ship waste into CNJ’s landfill, particularly bulky items such as furniture and electronics, to mitigate the city’s environmental impact. 

Additionally, cruise lines will limit the purchase of drinking water from CBJ during drought conditions and support CBJ’s federal RAISE grant application for shore power and dock electrification.

Carnival Spirit in Juneau, Alaska (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock)

Strategic berthing to reduce congestion will also be incorporated via the agreement. Ships will also need to eliminate the use of large video screens visible to neighborhoods when ships are in port.

Read Also: The Best Time to Cruise Alaska – Months to Choose

The MOA requires cruise lines to commit to maximizing partnerships with locally owned businesses and to direct cruise passengers to these businesses to support the local economy. Cruise lines are also tasked with using up to $10 million of passenger fees for the expansion of Centennial Hall, Juneau’s meeting and convention space.

The new agreement will last one year, and if a new agreement is not established during this period, it will continue until an updated version is signed.

The 2024 cruise season in Juneau is poised to be one of the busiest yet, with 660 cruises scheduled to arrive. According to Rain Coast Data, passenger numbers are projected to reach 1.7 million in 2024.

At the time of the announcement, cruise lines had not provided updates on how they would manage passengers’ disembarkment to meet Juneau’s new cap.

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