Kodiak could see fewer visitors during the upcoming tourist season as cruise ships cancel trips to the island in reaction to the outbreak of coronavirus in Asia.
Two cruises have already cancelled their trips to Kodiak, and at least one ship’s arrival is currently “up in the air,” according to the harbormaster’s office.
According to an article on the CNN website, a passenger on the M/S Westerdam owned by Holland America was found on Saturday to be infected by the virus. The M/S Westerdam is currently scheduled to visit Kodiak on May 5, the island’s first cruise ship arrival of the upcoming tourist season.
The article, published on Tuesday, said that the passenger was an 83-year-old American woman who tested positive for the coronavirus after a stopover in Malaysia. The cruise had been stuck at sea after visiting Singapore and was turned away from several Asian ports before being allowed to dock in Cambodia.
About half of the 2,257 passengers and crew have already left the ship.
Kodiak would be the M/S Westerdam’s first stop in Alaska after touring Asia.
“I am not sure what Holland America is going to do,” said Aimee Williams, the executive director of Discover Kodiak, adding that she expects to see upcoming changes in the cruise line’s itinerary.
“Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska is in communication with us and monitoring that (situation) at this time,” said Deputy Harbormaster Monte Anderson, adding that if the cruise were to come to Kodiak with an outbreak onboard, the Ports and Harbors Department could refuse to allow the vessel to moor.
Anderson also said that department would work with the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment and the City Manager’s Office in such a situation.
According to Williams, two other cruises have already cancelled their trips to Kodiak.
The M/S Viking Orion was slated to arrive at the end of May but is “leaving the market earlier,” Williams said.
The M/S Star Breeze is another cruise that has cancelled its stop in Kodiak. The cruise was scheduled to visit Kodiak after its tour in Asia but has cancelled its Asia sailings.
Although there is no data about how much tourism is worth in Kodiak, many downtown stores, such as Normans Fine Gifts, depend on the tourist season for a large portion of their revenue.
The M/S Westerdam, which carried about 1,900 passengers, is one of the largest cruise ships to visit Kodiak.