Tour passengers enjoy the sights but hate weather

Survey shows cruise ship visitors to Juneau spent an average of $186

Posted: Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Cruise ship passengers last summer overwhelmingly said they enjoyed their trips to Juneau but were less satisfied with the weather and the friendliness of its people, according to a McDowell Group study.

The Juneau-based research firm quizzed 329 passengers out of a total 948,226 people that visited by cruise ship. Northbound and southbound guests were selected randomly and the study has a a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percent, said the McDowell Group, a Juneau-based research firm.

The data was compared to similar surveys conducted in 2001 and 2003.

About 97 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with their experiences in Juneau. But when rating community friendliness, only 57 percent checked "very satisfied," compared with 69 percent two years ago.

Also, passengers' approval of customer service and the quality of tours and restaurants dipped in the survey by several percentage points.

"It's a trend that nobody wants to see," Assembly member Jeff Bush said. The Lands and Resources Committee, which Bush chairs, heard a presentation of the survey on Monday.

More passengers took tours in Juneau, 83 percent, than two years ago, 76 percent.

The Mendenhall Glacier had the most cruise ship visitors at 42 percent, a rise of 8 percent. Second was wildlife viewing at 21 percent, followed by the Mount Roberts Tramway at 14 percent. That was a drop since 2003, when the tram attracted 24 percent of those surveyed.

Juneau's scenery and sightseeing were the most enjoyable things to do in town at 44 percent. The glacier and whale watching followed at 27 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Some 7 percent of respondents picked Juneau's residents as their favorites, while another 2 percent chose the Red Dog Saloon.

The city's rainy weather topped the list as the least favorable experience at 24 percent. Some chose crowded streets and shops at 4 percent while 43 percent picked "nothing" for that category.

Visitors spent an average of $186 per person last summer, which breaks down to $100 per person on tours and shore excursions, and $86 on other items. In 2003, the average passenger spent $175.

When asked what the city should do to improve their visits, 78 percent agreed Juneau needs a continuous walkway along the waterfront.

Providing more cultural and historical information was also high on the list, as well as including better directional signs.

Bush said the Assembly was very interested in the response about the waterfront as it plans to complete a section of the waterfront this summer.

The survey was designed by the research firm and included questions suggested by city officials.

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