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Anchorage Has An Important Visitor

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The first cruise ship in 25 years, and the largest ever, docked in Anchorage on Monday.  As part of its new 14 day itinerary, Holland America’s Amsterdam and her 1390 passengers spent 16 hours in port.  This was the first of 9 scheduled visits this season.

Spirits ran high in Anchorage, amidst anticipation of the economic impact these visits will have and hopes that they perhaps presage additional visits by other cruise lines.

This first visit occurs against a backdrop of recent tensions between the cruise lines and the state government and its passenger head tax, viewed as onerous and ill-advised by the cruise industry.  The tax resulted in a reduction in ships visiting Alaskan waters and a threatened lawsuit.  The economic loss to Alaska as a result of the reduced number of passengers has been estimated to be as high as $150 million.

The reduction in the head tax last month has already been met with announcements of increased cruise traffic to Alaska in 2011.  The Anchorage visits are not in response to Juneau’s conciliatory gesture, having been planned well in advance of the state legislature’s vote.  They do, however, add to an elevation of spirit among those in Alaska who understand the benefits a robust cruise industry can bestow.

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