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Icy Strait (Photo:akphotoc/Shutterstock)
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Maria Harding
Cruise Critic Contributor

Port of Icy Strait

The creation of Alaska's newest cruise port, Icy Strait, represents a win-win collaboration between local communities and the giant cruise corporations that make big profits from visitors eager to experience America's "last wilderness."

About Icy Strait


Pro

A newly constructed floating dock means passengers no longer have to tender ashore

Con

This Tlingit-run port is very much about the environment; don't expect too many frivolities

Bottom Line

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


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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 a community in crisis, 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 a facility 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 new 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" good 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 Royal Caribbean and its higher-end subsidiary Celebrity Cruises, as well as Holland America Line, the Tlingit corporation Huna Totem -- which owns Icy Strait Point -- has wisely limited ship calls to ensure high passenger satisfaction.

In 2016, a dozen years after Icy Strait Point debuted to cruise passengers, a new dock, welcome center and restaurant were added. The infrastructure allows 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 add important tour and dining options.

Where You're Docked

A 400-foot-long floating dock now allows cruise ships to pull alongside Icy Strait Point, eliminating the need for cruise passengers to tender ashore.

Good to Know

Alaskans -- and visitors -- tend to pay higher-than-average costs for food and other essentials since nearly everything is shipped in from the "outside."

Icy Strait strives to be a sustainably managed port, so don't expect luxuries that might unduly impact the land, water or wildlife.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

Currency is the U.S. dollar. We advise getting cash onboard your ship. There's no bank in Icy Strait, and with no bank, laws make it difficult to have an ATM, so there isn't one. Because Icy Strait is a new port specifically designed for cruise-ship passengers, the most you'll need in cash is a few bucks to cover a burger and a couple of beers; all the shops take credit cards.

Language

English is spoken there.

Shopping

It's not the souvenir, but the delivery. Much of the original 1912 cannery equipment has been restored and stands ready to can your souvenirs at Icy Strait Point Company Store. Your items can be vacuum-sealed to shrink them down and then canned for mailing home or to friends and relatives.

Souvenir-hunters happy to dent their credit cards will find plenty of temptation in the Icy Strait Point shopping center, which surrounds the Icy Strait Museum, stocking everything from foodie treats (smoked Alaska salmon, preserves made from local berries) to well-made craft goods (throws, paintings, wooden carvings, glassware) and pretty jewelry with an ethnic twist.