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Norwegian Encore first cruise ship at Icy Strait's new Wilderness Landing

Norwegian Encore first alongside at the new Wilderness Landing pier. Pictured are Norwegian Encore Capt. Martin Holmqvist, NCL's Harry Sommer and Huna Totem executives Russell Dick and Tyler Hickman
Norwegian Encore became the first cruise ship to berth at Icy Strait Point's new Wilderness Landing pier, built in partnership between Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Huna Totem Corp.

A double ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday officially opened the new pier and the first of two gondola systems to be completed as part of the joint investment between NCLH and Huna Totem.

Norwegian Encore embarked Aug. 7 at Seattle on Norwegian Cruise Line's first cruise from the US in more than 500 days.

'Our return to Alaska is a monumental moment for not only NCL but for the state's communities as well,' NCL President and CEO Harry Sommer said. 'The absence of cruising last year was detrimental to these communities, which lost approximately $1.5 billion. Our return represents our continued commitment to Alaska and to the well-being of the destinations we visit. Our investment in Icy Strait Point is providing our guests with more opportunities to experience and understand the natural and cultural beauty of the destination and its people.'

Vehicle-free zone

A vehicle-free zone, the new Wilderness Landing provides additional forest and beach areas. With the opening of the new high-speed Transporter Gondola, visitors have easy access to Icy Strait Point’s first pier, Adventure Landing, where the Historic Salmon Cannery dating back to 1912 and other attractions are located. Once completed later this summer, the Mountain Top Gondola will take visitors to the top of Hoonah Mountain at 1,600 feet of elevation, where miles of new hiking trails and scenic vistas await.

Sustainable model

'Since Icy Strait Point’s inception, we’ve strived to balance the needs of our Alaska Native community with those of Alaska’s growing cruise industry and this development was a natural step for us,' said Russell Dick, CEO of Huna Totem. 'We are grateful to Norwegian for believing in our vision and we hope our sustainable model can lead the way for positive expansion of the cruise visitor industry in Alaska.'

Icy Strait Point — chosen by an independent judging panel as 2020 Port of the Year in the Seatrade Cruise Awards — stretches across 23,040 acres of private beach and temperate rain forest. The island offers coastal brown bear viewing platforms, whale watching, kayaking and the world’s largest ZipRider zip line. Icy Strait is located a mile from the Native community of Hoonah, where travelers can immerse themselves in its traditions, dances, oral histories and cooking classes.

Wyland orca sculpture

On June 12, a monumental orca sculpture by the artist and conservationist Wyland was dedicated at Keet Plaza. This was a gift to the Huna Totem shareholders from NCLH President and CEO Frank Del Rio.

Alaska Native shareholders

Huna Totem is owned by approximately 1,400 Alaska Native shareholders with aboriginal ties to Hoonah and the Glacier Bay area. Icy Strait Point is a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of the corporation.

Norwegian Encore is scheduled to continue weeklong Alaska cruises through Oct. 16.