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Cruises to Icy Strait

Icy Strait (Photo:akphotoc/Shutterstock)
Icy Strait (Photo:akphotoc/Shutterstock)

About Icy Strait

One of Alaska's newest cruise ports, Icy Strait (just outside of Hoonah) opened in 2004 so local communities and giant cruise corporations alike could profit from visitors eager to experience America's "last wilderness." The native Tlingit Corporation Huna Totem owns Icy Strait Point, and in conjunction with cruise line partners and investors, they've created a cruise port with some of the highest passenger satisfaction levels around.

The demand for a slice of "real" Alaska has only increased in the years since -- shore excursion offerings in Icy Strait more than doubled from 2015 to 2019. Facilities have expanded and increased over the years -- Huna Totem owns 23,000 acres. In 2020, Icy Strait will debut a second dock and their largest yet -- the Wilderness Plaza -- built in conjunction with Norwegian Cruise Line. No matter how big the port expands, the company is careful about the tiny details that preserve its nature-focused ethos; you'll never see a tour bus until it's time to board.

The facility -- just down the road from Hoonah, Alaska's largest Huna Tlingit village, and 22 miles southeast of Glacier Bay National Park -- has been a lifeline for the community, providing a much-needed alternative source of income for locals afflicted by a downturn in their traditional businesses of fishing and logging. Millions of dollars have been invested in creating facilities that offers cruise travelers an authentic "wilderness experience" and a refreshingly non-commercialized alternative to the usual run of Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway and Sitka.

What they've created is an attractive destination expressly for cruisers that's manmade but not commercialized. Icy Strait offers pretty woodland walks, an insight into Tlingit history and culture, a wide range of back-to-nature adventures and high-quality restaurants. Upmarket craft shops feature artisan crafts and locally made goods like woodland berry jam and confectionery, rather than the "made in Taiwan" goods so prevalent in, say, Juneau. Buildings are constructed from sustainable local timber and built by local Tlingit workers in traditional style.

Although the port receives ships from many cruise lines, officials -- have wisely limited ship calls to ensure high passenger satisfaction. This will shift slightly when two ships are accommodated at a time, heading into the 2020 cruise season.

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DAY 1: Seattle

9 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Sitka, Icy Strait ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Seward

7 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seward
Visiting:
Hubbard Glacier, Icy Strait ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Seattle

10 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Ketchikan, Juneau ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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DAY 1: Seattle

7 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Juneau, Glacier Bay ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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10 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
San Francisco
Visiting:
Astoria, Oregon, Sitka ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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10 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Seattle, Juneau ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Icy Strait, Hubbard Glacier ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Ketchikan, Endicott Arm ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Icy Strait, Glacier Bay ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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9 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Juneau, Skagway ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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9 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Icy Strait, Hubbard Glacier ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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9 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Sitka, Icy Strait ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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11 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
Ketchikan, Icy Strait ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Juneau, Hubbard Glacier ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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Cruise Critic Favorite

7 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
Inside Passage, Icy Strait ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
Inside Passage, Ketchikan ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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Cruise Critic Favorite

9 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
Inside Passage, Sitka ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seward
Visiting:
Hubbard Glacier, Juneau ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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7 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seward
Visiting:
Hubbard Glacier, Juneau ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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8 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Endicott Arm, Juneau ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Ketchikan, Icy Strait ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Ketchikan, Icy Strait ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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9 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
Sitka, Hubbard Glacier ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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7 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Juneau, Icy Strait ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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7 Night
Cruise to Icy Strait

Leaving:
Seattle
Visiting:
Juneau, Endicott Arm ...
see more
Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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Why go to Icy Strait?

Pros:

The word "authentic" isn't wasted here; this Tlingit-run port is true to its culture and in harmony with the environment

Cons:

Cruisers looking for an exhaustive list of amusements, apart from nature, might be disappointed

Bottom Line:

Icy Strait offers a great glimpse of native Alaska and everything is within walking distance

Icy Strait Cruise Port Facilities?

Icy Strait is not your "typical" sprawling cruise port with lots and lots to do, other than excursions or a scenic stroll around the main site. In 2016, a dozen years after Icy Strait Point debuted to cruise passengers, a 400-foot-long floating dock was built to allow cruise ships to pull alongside Icy Strait Point, eliminating the need for cruise passengers to tender ashore. The infrastructure allowed the small port to accommodate growing cruise ships and an increase in cruise passengers, while the 7,000-square-foot Adventure Center and Duck Point Smokehouse added important tour and dining options.

The Adventure Center serves as a welcome center, lounge and place to book more than 20 day-of shore excursions. Due to Icy Strait's compact nature, nothing on the main site is more than a 10- to 15-minute stroll away from the pier.

The forthcoming Wilderness Center will be located a half-mile from the Adventure Center, ensuring that crowds are spread out on two-ship days. The nature trail will be extended so that it is a quick 10-minute stroll for visitors between cruise facilities.

Good to Know?

Icy Strait strives to be a sustainably managed port, so don't expect luxuries that might unduly impact the land, water or wildlife. Also, food prices in Alaska can get quite high -- don't be surprised that fish and chips with a beer could run a pretty penny (but it's oh so worth it).

Getting Around?

On foot: The immediate area around the Adventure Center is easily explored on foot, and nowhere is further away than a 10- to 15-minute walk. Clearly marked walking trails will take you along the seashore, into deep rainforests and around the edges of mist-wreathed lakes.

By tram: Currently, transportation is available only through cruise lines' shore tours and a tram that will transport cruise passengers around the facilities and back toward the ship.

By shuttle: Don't waste cash on tours of Hoonah; it's within walking distance -- or a $5 roundtrip shuttle -- and easily explored on your own.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Currency is the U.S. dollar. We advise getting cash onboard your ship, should you need it. There's no bank in Icy Strait, which means no ATM. However, most vendors take credit cards.

Language?

English is spoken, though an effort is being made to preserve the native Tlingit language and you might be lucky enough to hear some spoken -- most often in a welcome greeting aboard a tour.


Icy Strait Cruise Reviews

Norwegian Jewel
Suzejm
Sail Date: Jun 2019
We weren’t impressed with this port. Icy Strait Point is a young port made up mostly of shops. There’s one show put on by the school children that was nice to see. You can walk or take a shuttle to Hoonah from... Read More
Seabourn Sojourn
BoatBoy12
Sail Date: Jul 2019
This, by definition, is a Tourist Attraption. It is a largely manufactured experience; with a zipline, restaurants, huge souvenir store, admittedly with some very nice stuff; and cannery machinery relics... Read More
Celebrity Eclipse
Gregg048
Sail Date: May 2019
Icy Straight is a tourist trap built specially for the cruise lines don’t bother, we walked into the local town Hoona and saw a large group of bald eagles, as well as a baby bald eagle in a nest, well worth the... Read More
bluegiraffe
Sail Date: May 2018
We took the shuttle into Hoonah and enjoyed some coffee and pastry at The Fisherman's Daughter (good food!), took a walk along the waterfront, saw all the totem poles. Then went back to Icy Point Strait to see the... Read More
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