This Alaskan city is implementing strict restrictions on cruise lines

The new limits aim to tackle overtourism and protect the environment

Written by
Gerrish Lopez
Contributor, New Orleans
Early on a foggy morning snow on mountains in the background, at Point Retreat Lighthouse, Juneau Alaska.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Alaska’s capital city is known for its breathtaking scenery, rich history, and vibrant culture. Juneau has seen a dramatic increase in tourism over the past decade, raising concerns about overcrowding and environmental impacts. In a landmark decision, the city has agreed to cap the number of cruise ship passengers disembarking daily.

The strict limits are set to begin in 2026. Cruise lines have agreed to limit daily passenger numbers to 16,000 people on most days, and 12,000 on Saturdays. The decision to implement restrictions comes after years of environmental impact studies and discussions involving the community, city officials, local businesses, and the cruise industry. The agreement was signed by major cruise lines, including Carnival, Disney, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian.

The call for restrictions comes from Juneau residents who have witnessed the boom in tourism. Approximately 1.64 million visitors descended on the city in 2023, compared to 1.15 million in 2022 and 1.3 million in 2019. This year, the city is projecting 1.65 million or more visitors.

“The cruise industry is vital to our local economy, and we need to improve our infrastructure and grow our tour capacity to create a great guest experience and reduce impacts on residents,” Juneau Visitor Industry Director Alexandra Pierce said in a statement. “With this agreement, we are committing to a cap to manage our busiest days and to meet annually to ensure that our visitor numbers remain sustainable.”

Residents and businesses recognize the importance of tourism to the local economy, but the new restrictions aim to balance those economic benefits with preserving Juneau’s quality of life and environment, and the restrictions represent a significant step towards more sustainable tourism.

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