Green: ‘We need to keep the cruise lines coming to Alaska as an attractive world destination’

Drew Green
Drew Green, Juneau port manager,
Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska.


When and how did you first become involved in the tourism industry?
In 1992, I was a college student looking for a summer job. I mentioned this to my hairdresser, who told me to go see Don Habeger and let him know I was looking for a job. I met with Don, and he hired me as a part-time agent assistant. I started out as a runner and later moved up to vessel agent and assistant port manager. I became the port manager of Skagway in early 2000 and eventually went back to Juneau to take Don Habeger’s position as port manager when he left in 2002.


What tourism companies do you own or play an active role in?
As port manager, I manage port operations, which include everything from adequate dock space for the ship, dock accommodation, tugboats and Coast Guard interactions.


How are cruise ship passengers being received in your business/industry?
In the past, it was common for some residents to view the industry as a nuisance. Cruise ships dock and passengers take over downtown Juneau. Everything slows down as they tour — locals stopped coming to town simply to avoid this. Traditional businesses closed and moved to new locations outside downtown.

However, opinion has slowly become positive. The cruise industry revitalized downtown and provided locals with work over the summer. It provided a lot of revenue and income to the local businesses and property tax to the city. Some who first rejected the cruise industry now embrace it and recognize it is desperately needed in Juneau.

We are actively looking for ways to accommodate cruise ships and passengers. We have improved culture, beautified downtown, hired ambassadors and addressed tourism impacts through voluntary measures. The tourism industry is positive for Alaska, and we want Juneau to be a world cruise port of call.


What specific improvements do you hope to see happen in the tourism industry?
For locals, one of most important things is time in port. Juneau has some of the lengthiest port calls compared to other destinations. The longer the ship is in port, the more opportunities local businesses have to get a piece of the tourism pie. Juneau already has the highest average per-passenger spending in the state.

In the past, Princess Cruises gave up a preferred dock to allow the large ship Infinity to dock. Growing pains are inevitable, and cruise lines cooperating in port goes a long way in the community.


How was the 2015 cruise season for your business?

Juneau has had a plateau period, but we are gradually growing. We see about the same amount of cruise ships, but they are larger cruise ships and hold more passengers. This past cruise season, Juneau had 976,121 cruise ship passengers — an increase from last year. We are still not at the high levels from 2008, but we are close to where we were in our peak years. To many, the magic number is 1 million, and we are well on our way.


What effects do you expect the 2016 cruise season to have on your business/industry?
2016 is expected to have an additional 20,000 more passengers based on estimates. By next season, we will have half of our new projects completed, so there will be some challenges with ships adjusting. However, positive changes with a floating dock include accessibility, security and increased dock space for larger ships. Any time something significant is changed in a port, it takes some adjustment. Everyone is well informed so we look forward to tackling the upcoming season.

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