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Revelry and Unease in Alaska as Cruises Return


The streets were so quiet that a family of foxes was recurrently seen running downtown, said Jaime Bricker, Skagway’s tourism director, who visited nearby Glacier Point, a preferred tourist destination, for the primary time in her life.

“My family and I embraced the quiet every probability we got,” Ms. Bricker said.

Around Glacier Bay National Park, a haven for seals, whales, dolphins and bears about 90 miles west of Juneau, the cruise ships weren’t missed, said Stephen Van Derhoff, one in every of the owners of Spirit Walker Expeditions of Alaska in Gustavus, a town of about 500 people near the park.

Mr. Derhoff’s business takes people to Glacier Bay in small kayaks and caters to independent travelers who desire a more intimate wilderness experience.

“To see the enormous cruises going by and the exhaust and smoke coming off them can have a negative impact,” Mr. Van Derhoff said. “For the primary half of 2021 there was little or no cruise ship traffic and that was actually very nice.”

Fewer ships at sea also gave scientists the chance to see the consequences on humpback whales.

In 2020, researchers from the University of Alaska identified 63 adult whales, essentially the most that they had seen in a five-year period, said Heidi Pearson, an associate professor of biology on the University of Alaska Southeast. Dr. Pearson, who’s conducting the study with Shannon Atkinson, a professor within the fisheries department on the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said that it was too early to say whether fewer vessels at sea were the principal factor.

In Skagway, nobody wanted the cruise ships gone for long, said Mr. Cremata, the mayor.

“I do know there are some places which have a love-hate relationship with tourists,” he said. “But we love our tourists.”

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