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The first big cruise ship arrives this morning.
Holland America Line's Volendam is scheduled into the newly rebuilt Berth 2 at 11 a.m., bringing 1,460 passengers and 700 crew members — the first of its 22 stops during the summer cruise ship season for Ketchikan and Southeast Alaska.
Tour operators, store merchants, restaurants and others who receive an economic boost as a result of the ships are ready and waiting anxiously.
Operators hired seasonal employees; merchants stocked up; restaurants increased supplies and the whole community will be watching as the ship eases over the horizon.
The community is prepared to give the visitors a pleasant stay in the First City.
The Volendam is the first big ship, but the first ship of the season came Saturday. Un-Cruise Adventures' Wilderness Discoverer, with 76 passengers and 26 crew members, spent all day in the community, allowing its guests to see Ketchikan and shop in its stores.
Ketchikan will experience five days following the Volendam's departure without a ship in town, but the activity picks up the following Monday with between one and four ships in per day on most days over the next two weeks; three days are shipless.
But, after that, it's ships every day until the end of September.
The ships are a welcome sight. The passengers a sight for sore eyes, and the season a blessing for the community.
Welcome to the cruise ships!