Ketchikan could soon become home to a private dock in Ward Cove, north of city limits.
Ward Cove Group, which is based in Ketchikan, is partnering with Fairbanks-based Godspeed Inc. and Norwegian Cruise Line to build a 2-berth cruise ship dock at the site of former Ketchikan Pulp Co. The US$50 million first phase of the project is scheduled to be completed by 2020.
Godspeed Inc. is owned by Binkley family, which has operated Fairbanks' tour businesses for decades. Ward Cove Group, owned by Dave and Andrew Spokely, bought the pulp mill property from Ketchikan Gateway Borough back in 2011.
Project spokesman Trevor Shaw, administrative manager for Ward Cove Group’s Power Systems & Supplies of Alaska, said the need for expanded cruise berthing in Ketchikan was an option that Spokelys had been considering for a while. The plans called for 2 berths able to handle post-Panamax cruisers (mega ships which are starting to sail to Alaska).
The dock of the City of Ketchikan can currently handle one mega cruise ship at a time. The cost of reconfiguring the dock to take additional mega cruise ships is estimated at up to US$150 million including shoreside improvements. Because of the high cost, the port city has been considering a private-public partnership.
Shaw said that the first phase of Ward Cove project would be the dock, a welcome centre, and passenger terminal. Subsequent phases are due to involve developing the other building at Pulp Mill site.
Via the Ward Cove Group’s partnership, Norwegian Cruise Line will have "first dibs on the dock space." Other companies will be able to use it when NCL is not.