Cruises to Icy Strait

394 Reviews
Icy Strait (Photo:akphotoc/Shutterstock)

About Cruising to 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 Alaska 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 upcoming cruise season.

  • More about Icy Strait

  • Why Cruise to Icy Strait?

  • Icy Strait Cruise Port Facilities?

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Norwegian Spirit (Photo: Adam Coulter)

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More about Icy Strait

Why Cruise 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
We loved the Zipline, the view and gondolas in Icy Strait but after we wrapped up we spent the rest of the time back on the ship.Read More
CruzingKs
We enjoyed seeing everything in Icy Strait!Read More
fam50Aug
Our one excursion was the zip line at Icy Strait Point. Although you use the gondolas for transportation there is an area where you have to walk over rocky uneven areas. Although the wait was about an hour long, thRead More
North2Alaska10
Icy strait point was absolutely fun and it was one of my favorite ports! I loved the mountain top gondola ride and I rode it over and over multiple times for the full views. It was amazing once the fog lifted. And I Read More
hockeyme99

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