What's up with that?

The Empire ponders Juneau's puzzles, unravels its mysteries and contemplates its conundrums.

Posted: Thursday, September 26, 2002

Q: I saw one of the ships anchored in the channel about July 17, discharging water out of the area adjacent to the anchor chain. The ship was at anchor at the time. Were they offloading ballast or what?

A: According to the ship schedule on file with Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska, this ship was hoisting its anchor in preparation to depart. The water was merely coming off the anchor chain as it was being pulled.

Q: I have heard that the fees a cruise ship has to pay for docking downtown are quite steep. Exactly how much does it cost for a ship to tie up at our city docks?

A: Cecilia Sears, secretary to city Port Director Joe Graham, takes care of the billing of the ship lines. She said there are indeed a number of fees including: $500 for lightering (anchoring in the channel and shuttling passengers back and forth), a docking charge of $2.56 per foot for ships over 700 feet (less per foot on smaller ships), $25 an hour for use of the passenger transfer bridge, a water usage fee of $1.75 per 1,000 gallons, a passenger tax and Assembly fee of $5.00 and $2.18 respectively, and as of June 1, 2002, 5 cents per ton for emergency repairs.

So, a ship 949 feet long, weighing 73,347 tons, with 2,200 paid passengers, using 200,000 gallons of water in port for 12 hours would pay the following fees:

949 feet X $2.56 = $2,429.44; 73,347 tons X $.05 = $3,667.35; 2,200 passengers X $7.18 = $15,796; 200 (thousand gallons) X $1.75 = $350; 12 hours for use of the bridge X $25 = $300. The total fees for that day would be $22,542.79, plus applicable sales tax.

Q: How do they determine which cruise ship gets which berth when the ships arrive in Juneau? For example, one day in August, there was an early arriving blue-colored cruise ship that had the berth next to the Mount Roberts Tramway station in the morning, but it moved offshore and the Norwegian Sky took that berth for the afternoon. Often there are smaller cruise ships in the spot next to the library, while large cruise ships are anchored in the middle of the port. Sometimes they move during the day and some anchor outside and shuttle passengers back and forth on small boats. What's up with that?

A: According to Cecilia again, there are many factors that determine where a ship will moor. "The port director works with the cruise ship agency to make the determination. They check the daily calendar of ships coming into port to determine how much space is required and they also take into consideration each captain's preference and make the appropriate assignments.

All the ships prefer to tie up at the dock, but if space is not available, they will anchor in the channel, pay the lightering fee (mentioned above) shuttle passengers as needed and wait for an opening at the dock later in the day." (This would explain the reader's observation about the Norwegian Sky moving into the dockside berth.)

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