A 528-person capacity Hurtigruten cruise ship anchored outside Cordova Harbor on Monday, May 30. Passengers aboard the MS Roald Amundsen arrived in small groups starting at around 3 p.m. There, they were greeted by Cathy Renfeldt, executive director of the Cordova Chamber of Commerce who provided them with maps of Cordova featuring, a dining and shopping guide and a “things to do on foot” brochure. Around town, visitors could be seen wandering the streets.
The Native Village of Eyak and the Ilanka Cultural Center had a display for visitors, featuring audio of Native drums and chanting in the background. The table displays for the passengers featured different furs they could touch, a Ravens tail robe, a beaded headdress, trapper hats, an Alutiiq war shield, paddles and dance masks.
Teal Hansen, cultural center coordinator for NVE’s Ilanka Cultural Center and Museum, presented information about the history of Eyak people in this area. Katrina Hoffman, president and CEO of the Prince William Sound Science Center also gave visitors a presentation in the Cordova Center.
This expedition was the first voyage of the year, and only the second time the company has ever come to Alaska. Before anchoring in Cordova, the ship previously stopped in Sitka, Juneau and Ketchikan. The ship is scheduled to visit Cordova again on Thursday, June 23.
According to Renfeldt, passengers said they had ample opportunities to buy touristy items in the other towns they visited but many were interested in more local, unique and handmade items. The Masonic held a crafts fair featuring local artisans and makers.
Many businesses that don’t typically open on a Monday, especially on Memorial Day, opened specifically for the ship’s passengers. Restaurants and food trucks were also open and ready for visitors, although many said local Cordovans made up the majority of their sales Monday.
One of the businesses was Copper River Fleece.
“We wouldn’t have opened otherwise,” store manager Cindy Maxwell said, adding, “it was fun.” She echoed other business owners that the majority of her customers were locals, not from the ship.
Brooke Stewart, the owner of the food truck Witch Kitchen, said “it was a good turn out, but it wasn’t because of the cruise ship.”
She noted they had “more cannery workers and fishermen” than cruise ship passengers.
Many of the passengers noted that they wanted to walk around and see wildlife, which could explain the lower than hoped for numbers of sales from the ship. Passengers hailed from countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Scotland, Norway and France.
The Hurtigruten group is a Norwegian based cruise company that owns and operate the MS Roald Amundsen. The company says it “strives to be the most sustainable travel operator in the world.”
In addition to a hybrid electric powered ship to reduce emissions, the 549-foot-long vessel bans the use or single use plastics, recycles, and offers educational opportunities for guests to learn more about culture and ecology of the places they visit.