At the annual meeting of the Kodiak Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, executive director Janet Buckingham announced the archipelago will see 14 cruise ship visits, bringing 1,200 fewer passengers in 2012 than in 2011.
The visitors bureau will work harder to compensate for that loss, Buckingham said, by renovating the bureau’s flagship website, Kodiak.org, and continuing to expand its reach online.
“We had a spectacular season this year,” Buckingham said, summarizing Kodiak tourism in 2011. Fifteen cruise ships visited the port of Kodiak last year, bringing 14,868 passengers. Viewership of Kodiak.org is up across the board when compared with 2010, and the Kodiak Facebook page has the most fans of any tourism page in the state.
“It’s really like having your little own marketing army,” Buckingham said of Facebook.
Until this year, Kodiak.org had been owned by the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce. Now that the visitors bureau has sole ownership of the site, it has contracted with Lunar Cow of Akron, Ohio, to redesign it.
Katie Oliver, president of the KICVB board of directors, said Lunar Cow specializes in websites for visitors bureaus, and the redesign is 12 to 18 months away from deploying.
In the meantime, businesses across the archipelago will cope with a decreased number of passengers.
“This is the lowest number (of cruise ships) since 2008,” Buckingham said.
That year, only eight ships called on Kodiak. Cruise passenger numbers spiked the following year before decreasing to 19,082 passengers in 2010 and 4,200 fewer in 2011. This year, only 13,620 cruise passengers are expected.
Kodiak’s continued decline comes despite an expected rebound in statewide figures. Alaska expects 947,000 cruise ship visitors this summer, according to the Alaska Cruise Association. That’s the highest figure since 2008 or 2009.
Princess Cruise Lines’ withdrawal from Kodiak was the biggest contributor to the decline in 2011, Buckingham said. Oceania Cruses, which made up some of that decline in 2011, does not appear on a tentative schedule distributed at the weekend meeting.
The schedule lists the season’s first arrival as the 1,000-passenger Crystal Serenity on April 10. The 1,400-passenger Zaandam, the season’s largest arrival, comes on April 30.
One ship is scheduled for May, two in June, and three each in July, August and September. The cruise season concludes with the Amsterdam on Sept. 16.
Kodiak remains one of the smallest Alaska cruise ship destinations by number of port visits. Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau and other Southeast ports record hundreds of visits annually.
According to information released by KICVB at the meeting, the states with the most visitors to Kodiak.org were California, Texas and Florida, in that order. International interest came primarily from Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom.
In KICVB membership business, Toby Sullivan, executive director of the Kodiak Maritime Museum, presented a progress report on the museum’s effort to restore the wooden seiner Thelma C and build a museum on the St. Paul Harbor spit.
Members elected Karen Hansz, James Rippey and Bob Stanford to the KICVB board of directors.
Annual awards were also presented. Pickled Willy’s won the organization’s Bear Cub Award for newcomers, while Channel View B&B won the Puffin Award, which goes to a business that “goes above and beyond the call of duty.”
Koniag’s Brown Bear Center on Camp Island in Karluk Lake earned the Baranov Award, given each year to a person or organization that does the most to develop the tourism industry in the archipelago.
Henry’s Great Alaskan Restaurant won the Emerald Service Award in recognition of its 55 years in operation, and Worldwide Movers garnered the President’s Award for its help distributing 2012 visitors guides.
The KICVB board of directors meets at 1 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month in the visitors center on Marine Way. Members are invited to attend.
Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at email@example.com. Tentative cruise ship schedule
Crystal Serenity, Crystal Cruise lines, 1,080 passengers - April 10
Zaandam, Holland America, 1,432 passengers - April 30
Silver Shadow, Silver Seas, 382 passengers - May 29
Amsterdam, Holland America, 1,380 passengers - June 10
Amsterdam, Holland America, 1,380 passengers - June 24
Amsterdam, Holland America, 1,380 passengers - July 8
Hanseatic, Hapag-Lloyd, 184 passengers - July 13
Amsterdam, Holland America, 1,380 passengers - July 22
Amsterdam, Holland America, 1,380 passengers - Aug. 5
World of Residensea, 200 passengers - Aug. 9
Amsterdam, Holland America, 1,380 passengers - Aug. 19
Amsterdam, Holland America, 1,380 passengers - Sept. 2
Silver Shadow, Silver Seas, 382 passengers - Sept. 12
Amsterdam, Holland America, 1,380 passengers - Sept. 16