The spring and summer cruise season is a major time of the year for the Wrangell’s economy. Store fronts open, people are outside eating, kids sell garnets, and vendor booths pop up near the end of town. This past spring, small cruise line InnerSeas Discoveries made its first stop in Wrangell. Recently city officials met with InnerSeas CEO Dan Blanchard to discuss last season and some goals for next year.
Wrangell Economic Development Director Carol Rushmore says two major concerns of the small cruise line is dock location and vendor solicitation.
“They’re a smaller vessel and there are safety issues as well as general access issues. There was also a lot of overly aggressive solicitation of passengers before they could even get off the boat. We have been working with the cruise line to develop solutions for these issues and see where it goes,” she says.
Rushmore says the meeting with Blanchard was productive in developing strategies for next year’s cruise season. One solution is the development of a port policy that prohibits vendor solicitation of passengers while on the dock or summer floats. Rushmore says all solicitation will now be required to take place off the port in the existing vendor shelters, or in the new culdesac near Wrangell’s downtown city dock.
“The vendor shelters were set up there years ago so that people could sell products and tours through there. And that’s what we are going to go back to. We are going to make sure all solicitation of passengers happens at the vendor shelters or once they get off the dock,” she says.
Harbor Master Greg Meissner says the main objective of the new requirements is to minimize conflicts and make sure next year’s cruise season is better than the last.
“We are doing what we can at the department level at the harbor to keep the folks off the dock while the passengers have the opportunity to get off the boat and make their own decision. We just want them to have a good experience once they get off the boat,” he says.
Meissner says workshops will be held before next year’s season to inform vendors and the general public on dock regulations and any of the changes made. The InnerSeas Discoveries cruise line stops in Wrangell every Wednesday, from May through September.