The first cruise ship of the 2015 season docked Monday in the Port of Anchorage.


The ms Statendam is part of the Holland America Line and carries up to 1,260 passengers. For this first group of “cruisers,” their journey started on May 18 in Seattle. Anchorage was their sixth stop on their 14-day cruise.


“We’ve been around the world several times, and this is one place we’ve never been,” said Ralph Dwornick, a traveler from Lincoln, Nebraska. “We thought, ‘Sarah Palin says it’s great,’ so we came up here.”


“We’re having a wonderful time,” said his wife, Marilynn.


The influx of tourists means big business for downtown vendors. Throughout the day, there was a steady line for the trolleys and shuttle buses. Passengers packed the stores and loaded up with souvenirs. At the Visit Anchorage Information Center, it was all hands on deck to meet the needs of the visitors who only have one day to spend in the city.


“This is Alaska, and regardless of how much time you have, our folks are really good at making sure you’ve got something that is gonna wow you,” said Jack Bonney with Visit Anchorage.


For passenger Linda Ellison, her visit to Anchorage marked the first time she’s ever seen a moose. She and her friends were on the trolley when they came upon a very special sight.


“First time I ever saw one and she had a brand new baby with her and we got to have pictures. It was really cool,” Ellison said.


For Mike Bence and his wife Pam, Monday marked their second time in Anchorage. Bence says he couldn’t wait to have a reindeer hotdog from one of the vendors.


The Statendam will stop in Anchorage nine times between May and September, bringing more than 11,000 tourists to the streets of Anchorage.


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