View Humpback Whales, Kayak Lakes, and Visit Totem Poles at This New Indigenous-Owned Alaska Cruise Port

Located on Prince of Wales Island, the new port is the second Native-owned cruise port in Alaska and will welcome cruise lines including Seabourn, Oceania, and Regent Seven Seas.

An aerial view of Prince of Wales Island, including bodies of water dotted by forest-covered land

Port Klawock is located Prince of Wales Island in southeastern Alaska

Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock

Just in time for the summer season, a new Indigenous-owned cruise port has opened among the mystical fjords and jagged mountains of southeast Alaska.

Called Port Klawock, the single-ship port is near the Alaska Native Tlingit village of Klawock (population 705) on the Pacific side of Prince of Wales Island and within the Tongass National Forest.

As part of the May 7 ribbon-cutting ceremony, the port welcomed its first ship, the 458-passenger Seabourn Odyssey.

Port Klawock was developed by Na-Dena` (a joint venture between the Alaska Native corporations of Huna Totem Corporation and Doyon) and Klawock Heenya Corporation (the Native village corporation of Klawock). The port features a floating tender dock, welcome facilities, and retail outlets showcasing Indigenous art and crafts.

In port, visitors can wander around town or participate in a range of shore excursions with local guides, including a boat tour with the potential to spot humpback whales, sea otters, and other marine wildlife, visiting a river-salmon hatchery, kayaking on Klawock Lake, going on a local food tour, or exploring the totem park (which, with 21 poles, is the largest collection in Alaska). There are also complimentary shuttles operated by Alaska Coach Tours to Klawock and Craig, a nearby fishing community with a population of roughly 1,400 people.

The 458-passenger 'Seabourn Odyssey' sailing into Port Klawock in Alaska with calm waters and cloudy skies overhead

The 458-passenger Seabourn Odyssey was the first passenger cruise ship to dock in the newly established port.

Courtesy of Port Klawock

Smaller ships, like those operated by Alaskan Dream Cruises, whose largest vessel holds 80 passengers, have been able to visit Klawock in the past by anchoring nearby and shuttling guests into town on a Zodiac. But now, larger vessels can dock at the destination.

The new port “is gearing up to serve numerous cruise line visits for the 2024 and 2025 seasons, catering to the growing demands of the Alaska travel market,” said a press release announcing the port. “With its commitment to increasing the number of cultural tour products and sustainable tourism opportunities, the Port of Klawock is set to become a cornerstone of Alaska’s tourism industry.”

This marks the second Alaska Native–owned cruise port in the 49th state. Icy Strait Point, near Glacier Bay National Park, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary this summer, was the first.

Beyond Seabourn Odyssey, Oceania Cruises’ 670-passenger Regatta and Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 750-passenger Seven Seas Explorer will also call at Port Klawock this summer.

“Our guests are always seeking culturally rich and immersive experiences, and Port Klawock stood out to us because it gives travelers entrée to Tlingit customs and traditions,” said Natalya Leahy, president of Seabourn. “Immersing in the culture, guests can participate in whale and marine mammal sightings, explore Klawock’s totem park, learn about the history of Alaska’s first cannery, and so much more.”

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at Afar. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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