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Alaska

Icy Strait Point Cruise Port (Hoonah)

Icy Strait Point waterfront; credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license
Icy Strait Point waterfront; credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

The Icy Strait Point cruise port near the village of Hoonah is unique among all Alaska ports. It is privately owned by the state’s largest Native Tlingit village.

This entertainment complex developed specifically for cruise ships is only 35 miles west of Juneau. It is a less common stop on cruise ship itineraries and opens only when cruise ships arrive.

Ships dock by the complex rather than Hoonah, which is 1.5 miles away. The docks have quick access to a kayak shop, excursion dock, retail shops, cannery museum, tribal dance theater, Crab House restaurant, Cookhouse restaurant and excursion hub, among other facilities.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

Walking Around Attractions

Icy Strait Point doesn’t have many points of interest for anyone who simply wants to walk around because it is such a small port. It does have nature trails, a beach and a restored 1912 Alaska salmon cannery and museum in addition to the port facilities.

Otherwise, the port has a heavy emphasis on paid adventure excursions.

Shore Excursions

Icy Straight Cruise Port Map

Icy Strait Point claims to have the world’s largest ziprider. A ziprider is a harness that holds a passenger in place while hanging from a zipline. At Icy Strait, visitors take a bus to the top of Hoonah Mountain, drop 5,300 feet to the bottom of the mountain while reaching speeds up to 60 miles an hour.

Prices average about $150 to $200 per person depending on whether visitors do just the ziprider or the ziprider and an adventure park. The adventure park consists of ziplines, rope climbing and other obstacles in a 2.5-hour excursion.

Another attraction is a “guaranteed” whale watching tour. The nearby Point Adolphus has the world’s largest summer population of humpback whales, according to multiple sources. These prices also average about $150 per person for a three-hour excursion.

Possible sightings on nearby land during the cruise include bald eagles and an occasional bear. On water, sightings may include killer whales, seals, sea lions and porpoises. (We saw eagles, seals, sea lions on porpoises on our Seward tour.)

Other activities include ATV and jeep excursions, “Alaska’s Wildest Kitchen” with hands-on tasting of fresh seafood, bear searching, bird watching, wilderness hikes, and zodiac and ocean rafting tours.

Zodiac and coastal rafting tours last three hours and cost about $190 per person. The wilderness hike and the culinary events are among the least expensive shore excursions at about $100 per person.

Cruise Weather

Hoonah shares similar weather with Juneau because they are so close to each other.

May and September have an average daytime temperature in the upper 50s Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. June through August have average daytime temperatures in the low 60s. On some days, temperatures may reach into the 70s.

Nighttime temperature range from the high 40s to low 50s. Cruise visitors who stay late in the day may want to bring light jackets.

May, June and July average more than five inches of precipitation per month (mostly rain). Precipitation climbs to nearly eight inches in August and nearly 13 inches in September.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.
August 04, 2021