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4/18/2014
Ship cancellation means 30,000 fewer visitors

By NICK BOWMAN

Daily News Staff Writer

Carnival Cruise Lines has canceled 15 of its 20 scheduled port calls to Ketchikan this summer.

The Carnival ship Miracle is experiencing a technical issue that lowers its top cruising speed from 21 knots to 18 to 20 knots, depending on weather conditions, according to a release from Carnival public relations.

Ketchikan is the only stop seeing cancellations on the Miracle’s schedule. To the north, the ship will spend more time in Juneau and Sitka.

In the new schedule, the ship will land in Ketchikan as originally planned on May 4, May 11 and May 18 and on Sept. 7 and Sept. 16, according to the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau.

Ketchikan calls are canceled beginning on May 25 until Aug. 31.

The Miracle carries 2,124 passengers, according to the Visitors Bureau, and was expected to bring 42,480 passengers to Ketchikan. That projection has been amended to 10,620.

Losses from the Miracle bring the total projected number of cruise visitors to Ketchikan this year to 850,377, down from 882,237.

The Miracle is Carnival’s lone ship in Alaska, according to Rick Erickson of Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska, the cruise companies’ on-shore representatives.

"Ultimately, they decided to lengthen their port time in Juneau," Erickson said of Carnival, adding that they would depart Juneau, skip Ketchikan and arrive in Victoria, British Columbia, early.

The ship is expected to make its calls in Tracy Arm, he said, but it will arrive there later than scheduled.

"The big issue is trying to get out of Ketchikan on a Sunday and making Victoria the following day," he said.

Victoria sits across from Bellingham, Wash.

The Miracle will finish its Alaska and Hawaii seasons before heading to the scheduled dry docking in early 2015, according to a Carnival release.

Erickson said he didn’t know the nature of the ship’s problem, but noted that it wouldn’t affect any safety or hotel facilities.

"We can be thankful that they’re still on the market," he said.

Carnival Cruise Director John Heald wrote on his public Facebook page on Thursday that the choice was between limiting the calls of the Miracle in Alaska and Hawaii or canceling the season completely to fix the repairs before its scheduled 2015 dry dock visit.

"Unfortunately," he wrote, "the scheduled Alaska and Hawaii itineraries required speeds for certain legs of the cruise that exceeded the current maximum cruising speed available."