Icy Strait Point

(3:00 p.m. EST) -- Icy Strait Point, a port along Alaska's Inside Passage that has been receiving cruise ships since 2004, will expand with a new 400-foot pier and Tlingit-style welcome center.

Construction of the $23.7 million floating pier will begin in spring 2015, with work scheduled to be completed by Aug. 31, 2015, according to a statement from the port owners, Huna Totem Corporation. Designed and built by Turnagain Marine Construction, the pier will have the ability to be operational year-round and will be able to handle one large cruise ship (although others may tender, if need be).

The welcome center and departure lounge, slated to be built in native Alaskan style with wood beams, will also encompass a new transportation center; these features are scheduled to be in place by May 2016.

Until now, passengers to the port in Hoonah, Alaska, were forced to tender to a wooden jetty. The port's main building, a century-old salmon cannery with locally owned shops and museums, will be incorporated into the new design.    

Unique among Alaskan ports, Icy Strait Point is owned and operated by a Tlingit corporation made up of 1,350 Alaska natives with aboriginal ties to Hoonah and nearby Glacier Bay. As part of the agreement, Turnagain Marine Construction will recruit and hire workers from Hoonah for the project.

Lines scheduled to call on Icy Strait Point in 2015 include Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas and Holland America Line. 

--By Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor