Icy Strait Point

Icy Strait Point
Cruise ship passengers arrive at Icy Strait Point
Click on the map for a fullscreen view
CountryUnited States
Location108 Cannery Road, Hoonah, Alaska
Coordinates58°07′46″N 135°27′48″W / 58.12933°N 135.4632°W / 58.12933; -135.4632
Owned byHuna Totem Corporation

Icy Strait Point is a privately owned tourist destination just outside the small village of Hoonah, Alaska. It is located on Chichagof Island and is named after the nearby Icy Strait. Owned by Huna Totem Corporation, it is the only privately owned cruise destination in Alaska,[1][2] as most stops are owned by the cities in which they are located. Huna Totem Corporation is owned by approximately 1,350 Alaskan Natives with aboriginal ties to Hoonah and the Glacier Bay area.[3] Many of them are of the Tlingit people.[1]


Huna Totem Corporation was established as a part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act[4] signed into law in 1971. The Act was intended to resolve the long-standing issues surrounding aboriginal land claims in Alaska, as well as to stimulate economic development throughout Alaska.

The corporation purchased the site in 1996,[5] and Icy Strait Point was first opened for cruise ships in 2004, with Royal Caribbean International and its sister outfit Celebrity Cruises being the two lines to initially make use of it.[6] They would continue to be the main lines there, but subsequently Princess Cruises began making some stops there for several years, as well as Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line.[1][7][8][9]

By 2008, cruise stop business accounted for a quarter of Hoonah's employment,[5] and by 2011, there were some 73 cruise ship visits arriving for the summer season, and by one calculation the cruise business accounted for more than half the local economy.[8]

Initially passengers were tendered into the Icy Strait Point dock,[7] then in 2016 construction was finished on a 400-foot (120 m) floating dock suitable for cruise ships that replaced tendering.[10] By 2019, there were 137 cruise ships scheduled to visit Icy Strait Point.[11] But still only one cruise ship was present at any given time.[7]

To further expand the tourism business, in 2019 Huna Totem Corporation joined with Norwegian Cruise Line to build a second floating dock, one that could accommodate megaships, located a half mile away from the first.[11] The goal of the separation was to prevent overcrowding,[12] but nevertheless some Hoonah Elders expressed skepticism that the local population could handle that amount of tourist traffic without losing its sense of character.[11]

In 2020, Icy Strait Point was hit by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on cruise ships.[12] Nevertheless work on the second dock work went forward and was completed by 2022, although the effects of the pandemic were still being felt.[12]


Icy Strait Point

The corporation's goal was to preserve the character of the local village and culture as much as possible, despite the influx of visitors, while still providing substantial help to local economic prospects.[5] They have won several awards for doing this,[2] including in 2008 a Travel to a Better World Award from National Geographic Traveler magazine,[5] in 2012 a Global Vision Award from Travel + Leisure magazine,[13] and in 2013 a finalist World Savers Award from Condé Nast Traveler magazine.[14] A decade later, The New York Times put Hoonah and Icy Strait Point on its '52 Places to Go in 2022' list, a group of selections that year that emphasized sites that fostered sustainable tourism and avoided overtourism.[12]

Tlingit-garbed people and items mingle with cruise ship passengers in 2009

The site includes the 1930s Hoonah Packing Company facility, now converted into a museum, restaurant, and shops.[1] In the view of two travel books, the cannery at the site has been "beautifully restored".[7][15] At the dock, traditionally garbed presenters offer a look at Huna Tlingit culture,[16] and an indoor theatrical production along the same lines is also offered.[7] All shops located there are owned by Alaskans.[7] Alaska's Wildest Kitchen shows visitors the importance of salmon and subsistence fishing in the Tlingit culture and features a culinary instruction space where local residents demonstrate how to fillet salmon and halibut and turn them into burgers, spreads, casseroles, and grilled entrees.[17] The local town of Hoonah is a mile's walk, and reveals contemporary Tlingit life.[7] A 2014 USA Today article described the chance to experience Alaska Native culture in small villages such as Hoonah one of the ten reasons to visit the state.[18]

For the most part, however, Icy Strait Point is a jumping-off point for shore excursions for the cruise passengers.[1] The most well-known of these is the ZipRider zip-line that completes its run near the facility, which was constructed by the Huna Totem Corporation.[5] Opening in May 2007, it measures 5,330 feet (1,620 m) and made claims to being the longest in the world,[1][19] or later to at least being one of the longest and highest – at 1,330 feet (410 m) – in North America.[20] It has been rated a statewide "must do" attraction by the Anchorage Daily News.[7] The zip-line was also featured in September 2013 on Travel Channel's Ride-iculous show.[21]

Another popular excursion is to search for coastal brown bears on the nearby Spasski River, where sightings happen but are not guaranteed.[1][22] Other wildlife, such as bald eagles, are frequently seen in the area.[7] Whale watching excursions are also conducted, as the facility is near the Point Adolphus feeding area for humpback whales.[15] By 2011, attractions at and around Icy Strait Point had reached the level where they were getting non-cruise visitors as well.[7]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Hannafin, Matt; Sarna, Heidi (2010). Frommer's Cruises and Ports of Call. John Wiley & Sons. p. 595.
  2. ^ a b "Huna Totem Corporation celebrates 40 years; Tlingit culture and community flourish at Icy Strait Point". SitNews. August 1, 2013. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  3. ^ Hunn, Eugene S., et al. "Huna Tlingit Traditional Environmental Knowledge, Conservation, and the Management of a 'Wilderness' Park" Current Anthropology 44.S5 (2003): S79–S103.
  4. ^ Huhndorf, Roy M., and Shari M. Huhndorf. "Alaska native politics since the Alaska native claims settlement Act." South Atlantic Quarterly 110.2 (2011): 385–401.
  5. ^ a b c d e Westmoreland, Charles L. (October 15, 2008). "Small village, big business". Capital City Weekly.
  6. ^ Ludmer, Larry H. (2005). Cruising Alaska: A Guide to the Ports of Call (6th ed.). Edison, New Jersey: Hunter Publishing. pp. 168–169.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Golden, Winograd; Sloan, Gene (2011). Frommer's Alaska Cruises & Ports of Call 2011. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley Publishing. pp. 226–228.
  8. ^ a b "Icy Strait Point: Dock in Works". Cruise Industry News. June 10, 2011.
  9. ^ "Cruises to Icy Strait Point 2014". cruisetimetables.com. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
  10. ^ "Icy Strait Point completes new dock, adventure center and restaurant". CLIA Alaska. 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2017-05-24.
  11. ^ a b c Resneck, Jacob (May 3, 2019). "Icy Strait Point to add megaship dock as Hoonah readies for hundreds of thousands of cruise visitors". KTOO-TV. CoastAlaska.
  12. ^ a b c d Glusac, Elaine (January 16, 2022). Virshup, Amy (ed.). "Hoonah". The New York Times. The World Has Changed. So Has '52 Places'. pp. 4, 16 (Travel).(subscription required)
  13. ^ "Global Vision Awards 2012". Travel + Leisure. October 2012. Archived from the original on October 23, 2012.
  14. ^ "Destinations: The 2013 World Savers Awards Finalists". Condé Nast Traveler. July 22, 2013.
  15. ^ a b Fodor's Alaska 2014. New York: Random House. 2014. p. 161.
  16. ^ Parrish, Rogue. "Cultural Tours of Alaska". USA Today. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  17. ^ Dobbyn, Paula (October 8, 2012). "From Timber to Tourism: Hoonah evolves to meet its economic needs". SitNews. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  18. ^ Golden, Fran (February 6, 2014). "Explore the 10 reasons why you should cruise Alaska". USA Today.
  19. ^ Martin, Hugo (December 22, 2007). "Ziiiiiiiiiip: Adrenaline junkies need to get in line at new Vallecito attraction". Lodi News-Sentinel. Los Angeles Times. p. 6.
  20. ^ Engle, Jane (February 21, 2010). "Alaska, off the beaten path". Chicago Tribune.
  21. ^ "Ziprider at Icy Strait Point". Travel Channel. September 1, 2013. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  22. ^ Harpaz, Beth (February 17, 2008). "Where the wild things are: In Alaska, put yourself in the right place at the right time". The Register-Guard. Associated Press. p. G5.

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