Alaska Railroad plans to improve cruise facilities in Seward

Alaska Railroad plans to improve cruise facilities in Seward

Luke Davis

The ARRC will be able to sell up $60 million in bonds to fund the replacement of the Seward dock, which is used by thousands of cruise passengers in Alaska every summer

The Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) has submitted plans to replace its cruise dock and terminal in Seward, Alaska, to the governor of Alaska.

The Alaska State Legislature has authorised ARRC to sell up to $60 million in bonds to fund the replacement of the Seward dock, which is used by thousands of cruise passengers who arrive in Alaska every summer. The sale will go ahead pending the governor’s approval.

“We are grateful for Senate President Peter Micciche and House Transportation Committee chair representative Grier Hopkins for introducing and shepherding this bond authorisation through the legislature,” said Bill O’Leary, president and CEO of ARRC. “And we are thrilled the legislature provided its resounding support for this vital project that strengthens Alaska’s cruise market in Southcentral Alaska. Now, we will get to work making this new dock and terminal a reality for the benefit of our tourism partners across the state who are ready to welcome cruise guests for decades to come.”

The project will be fully funded by ARRC and its donors rather than from state dollars. Total project costs are estimated at $80 million to replace the existing dock and terminal facility. The remaining costs will be paid through existing dock fees and ARRC capital funds.

The project is supported by Royal Caribbean Group, which is a long-term partner of the Seward cruise terminal and is working with ARRC to finalise a multi-year berthing agreement. Its brands – Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises – are all sailing to Alaska this year and will benefit from the project for future itineraries.

“For those cruise visitors who want to get the most out of their Alaska vacation experience, Seward is at the top of their list,” said Wendy Lindskoog, regional vice president of Alaska and the West Coast for Royal Caribbean Group. “Great guest experiences are inclusive of sound destination infrastructure, innovative ships, exceptional onboard service and plenty of things to see and do in the communities we visit. For many years, we have benefited from the strong community and business relationships in Seward and the ARRC’s pending improvements to the passenger dock will be critical to Seward’s continued status as a vibrant cruise transportation hub.”

With legislative approval, the ARRC will invest $100 million into the Seward community over the next five years including the passenger dock and terminal facility replacement. There will also be a separate project to upgrade the freight terminal in Seward.

“The ARRC has been an excellent partner with the city and community, and we look forward to our continued partnership,” said Janette Bower, city manager at Seward. “We believe in this vital project and the economic benefit it provides through cruise ship tourism dollars for our local businesses, including commercial passenger vessel funds for both the city and borough, the marine industry in Seward and throughout the state.”

Under the current construction timeline, the new passenger dock will be operational for the 2024 season, with the terminal facility ready by 2025.

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Alice Chambers
By Alice Chambers
23 May 2022

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