Skip to content

Skagway Minimizes Rockslide Risk Ahead of Cruise Season

Last summer, a number of rockslides damaged the dock where the largest cruise ships port in Skagway, Alaska—the White Pass Railroad Dock. This meant the dock had to be shut down while emergency measures were put into place. However, more permanent work is being done in order to make the dock safe for cruise ships to port and passengers to disembark at this amazing destination. 

The majority of the emergency measures have been completed and Andrew Cremata, mayor of Skagway, is looking forward to a successful season with a record-breaking number of cruise passengers. 

Cremata said, “Anyone who knows me will tell you, I am not much of an optimist, but I am a realist. I firmly believe that we will host a record number of cruise passengers in 2023. If not, we will be close.”

The first rockslide, which occurred on June 23, 2022, caused minor damage to Discovery Princess and then several more rockslides followed. An environmental agency was brought to examine the slope and make safety recommendations. The permanent  recommendations have been estimated at $40 million and Skagway has applied for federal grants for the project. 

In the meantime, the emergency measures should be complete and tested by April so ships can safely disembark passengers. Cremata explained the safety plan for 2023. 

“The plan for the Railroad Dock in 2023 is to dock larger ships (Oasis and Breakaway class ships) on Railroad Aft, and then use buses to safely transport passengers off the dock, and to tender passengers from Railroad Forward,” Cremata said. “To achieve this, the rockslide area must meet highway rockfall safety standards. Because the scaling is going so well, engineers believe this standard will be achieved.”

“As buses transport passengers beneath the slide area, spotters will vigilantly monitor the slope,” Cremata continued. “Any sign of rockfall activity can be instantaneously reported so that the area can be cleared. This is an extra safety protocol to ensure that passengers and dock workers aren’t at risk.”

The precautions that are being put into place will likely slow down passenger movement and patience will need to be exercised by all visitors to Skagway.