Cruise ship docks in Skagway, Alaska for the first time in 21 months

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A file photo of a cruise ship in Skagway, Alaska. The first ship of the season arrived Friday.  (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada - image credit)
A file photo of a cruise ship in Skagway, Alaska. The first ship of the season arrived Friday. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada - image credit)

For the first time in nearly two years, a cruise ship has arrived in Skagway, Alaska.

On Friday, the American Constellation docked in the city, with passenger in tow — a much welcomed sign for local businesses that heavily depend on the cruise ship industry to stay afloat.

"If you'd asked me a couple of months ago if we were going to have a cruise ship coming in by now, I would have not thought it possible," said Andrew Cremata, Skagway's mayor.

But after two-and-a-half months without a case of COVID-19 in Skagway, things, he said, are starting to get back to normal.

Restaurants are open and streetcar tours are running, and more cruise ships are set to arrive after 21 months without one.

"It's been pretty devastating for the businesses here," Cremata said.

"Not only is it losing the [cruise ship] season, but it's losing our economy because it's 95, 96 per cent based on cruise ship traffic."

While he's cautiously optimistic the city will see a return to pre-COVID-19 levels of cruise ship passenger numbers, he thinks the ramifications of the pandemic will take years — if not decades — to fully comprehend.

"Now the only missing piece of the puzzle is for that Canadian border to open so that you guys can come see us and we can come see you," he said.

"Everyone here comments every day. I hear it repeatedly and I'm guilty of saying it as well: 'Man, I can't wait for the border to open.'"

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