It’s time to move past the season.
The past five-month period wasn’t what it was supposed to be in terms of tourists visiting Ketchikan.
But, then, this year is unlike any year in relatively recent memory.
It prompts a reflection of the predictions of impending disaster leading up to 2000 and the new millennium. More than a few technology experts’ comments created and built upon a platform of growing anxiety about “Y2K,”, but then Dec. 31, 1999 left and Jan. 1, 2000 came and for most there wasn’t even a blip on the Richter scale. Electronics — which was the center concern of all the hubbub — hummed into the new year.
Then, 20 years later without much of a knowledgeable warning in advance, the novel coronavirus blasted into the world’s consciousness. It caused about as much damage to the economy as the entrance into the new millennium was expected to. It was like the anticipated new millennium devastation arrived two decades late.
This year Ketchikan anticipated its best tourism year since the cruise ships started calling — upwards of 1.3 million passengers — and the rising numbers had become a rallying cry for Port of Ketchikan growth. But, instead, only a fraction of visitors came, and they arrived via airlines.
But, if the ships had come this season, the community would be preparing to bid adieu to the last one on the cruise calendar. The Norwegian Sun was scheduled to depart Ketchikan on Saturday, Oct. 10.
Instead, the First City, which had its rainiest summer ever, is settling in with the shorter days and impending cold, thinking of the next cruise season a full winter away and perhaps gaining inspiration from several small businesses that opened for the first time despite the lack of a cruise season — a drug store, a bakery, a chocolate shop, to list a few examples. The owners’ confidence in the community and the return of the cruise visitors is demonstrative of why K-town is renown for its resilience.
Other businesses remodeled, painted, moved into new digs and set up as if the tourists would be in to shop any day. Shops that traditionally are seasonal, but locally owned, opened for the few visitors who came to town and to the locals’ delight.
While the summer of 2020 wasn’t what was expected, Ketchikan will be more than ready for 2021 — both in terms of time to prepare and in anticipation of the cruise ship industry and its guests. It will have been a 17-month wait.
As quickly as time passes, it will be here soon. But first this season without the cruise ships is sailing into the sunset.