ANCHORAGE - The Amsterdam cruise ship made its first arrival of the season at the Port of Anchorage on Friday. The ship carries nearly 1,400 passengers and 600 crew members. They docked for nearly 16 hours, which means most had nothing to do but see the sights and spend money.
According to Visit Anchorage, each person is expected to spend around $100, which means about $140,000 for Friday’s visit.
“You have the initial spend and then you have all those jobs that are supported in these retail shops, all these shipping jobs that bring the merchandise here, all the locally produced items. So it really has a large ripple effect in this community,” said David Kasser, the Vice President of Tourism for Visit Anchorage.
It’s not just downtown shops seeing an increase in visitors. Shuttles and tour buses made it easier for cruise ship passengers to get all over town.
"It's great to have someone who knows where they're going. You can sign up for different tours and everything based upon what you're interested in. We really wanted to see the museum but whatever else you get to do is icing on the cake,” said Richard Poole from Portland, Oregon.
One of those trip included Alaska Wildberry Products in Midtown.
“They're all over town, so it's not like they're just Downtown. They come down this far and go down to the zoo so it's good for everybody,” said Dwayne Guerr.
The Alaska Zoo adds an extra shuttle on cruise ship days knowing it will be one of the big stops for tourists.
“We're going to hit the little trinket shops, but we really wanted to see the zoo. We love our animals and anything that has to do with the outdoors,” said Eric Perras from Williamsburg, Virginia.
“We love zoos. Everywhere we go around the world, almost the first thing we do is go see the zoo. We love wildlife,” said Robert Sinatra from Greenville, South Carolina.
Tourists are happy to spend their money at the zoo. Many say the admission price is worth it to see what they consider a real Alaska animal: The polar bear.
As passengers boarded the ship after their day in Anchorage, their wallets were a little lighter, but they’ll have some great souvenirs and stories from their trip to the Last Frontier.
Visit Anchorage says there was a 20 percent increase in cruise ship passengers this year and 2013 is up 17 percent. The Amsterdam has six more visits to Anchorage planned, arriving every other Friday.