Ferry traffic between Juneau and Glacier Bay's Bartlett Cove will increase to six days per week for the park's upcoming 2005 summer visitor season.
The 2003-2004 four-day-per-week ferry schedule was unpopular. "It was difficult to make travel plans," said Allen Marine Tours vice president John Dunlap.
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve announced this week it will contract with Allen Marine Tours, based in Sitka, for the 2005 May-September season. The park plans to issue a request for proposals for a 10-year ferry service contract in early 2005.
Allen Marine operated the park's first catamaran ferry from Juneau in the 1980s and partnered with Goldbelt Inc. to provide service from 1996 to 2001. Most recently, ferry service to the park was provided by Juneau's Four Seasons Marine Services.
Dunlap said he hopes to expand ferry traffic to seven days per week. For the time being, Wednesdays will be the lone day when a ferry doesn't travel the three-hour trip to and from Bartlett Cove.
The 100-day visitor season at Glacier Bay usually attracts about 2,400 one-way ticket ferry passengers - many of whom pick up the ferry in Juneau and fly out from the Gustavus airport, said David Nemeth, the park's chief of concessions.
"It's a nice activity, by itself, to come by boat from Juneau," Nemeth said.
Allen Marine's fleet of catamarans, based in Auke Bay, can carry 150 passengers each. A boat has not been assigned to the route at this time.
Dunlap said the tentative schedule involves a late-morning departure from Auke Bay and 5 p.m. departure from Bartlett Cove. A rate structure hasn't been assigned yet but it will likely be similar to the recent rates of $69 one-way and about $130 round-trip, he said.
Allen Marine plans to do some advertising in Juneau and elsewhere in Southeast Alaska to increase ticket sales.
"It's not significantly less (expensive) than flying but it's somewhat less," Dunlap said.