Alaska is considering new restrictions on cruise ship guests in the popular port city.
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Alaska is considering new restrictions on cruise ship guests in the popular port city.

The visitor limit agreement will come into force in 2026.

Alaska’s pristine natural beauty is characterized by breathtaking landscapes, vast national parks, glaciers and 6,640 miles of coastline, making it a popular destination for cruise travelers.

Now the capital port city of Juneau, which has seen record crowds, is considering a 2026 cap on large cruise ships carrying 250 or more passengers. That would limit the number of daily visitors and help combat overtourism.

New Alaska Deal to Limit Cruise Ship Visitors

Last month, cruise lines including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian signed an agreement with tourism officials in Juneau to help manage the thousands of passengers disembarking at one time and visiting the area.

While numbers are subject to change, passenger capacity on flights is set to be capped at 16,000 from Sunday through Friday. On Saturdays, capacity will be capped at 12,000.

The new agreement builds on a decision made last year to limit cruise ships to five per day in Juneau.

Juneau is home to some amazing outdoor attractions, like whale watching and the Mendenhall Glacier, but some residents say they’re tired of the crowds in the wake of the pandemic.

“I personally have come to the conclusion that Alaska is being sold as a friendly place, and my friendliness is a commodity for the cruise lines,” resident Karla Hart told ABC News. “It’s about taking one day a week and just stopping — to reclaim our community.”

A record 1.6 million cruise passengers visited Juneau in 2023, including Sarah Grathwohlwent, who was there for the first time earlier this spring and documented her trip on social media.

“It was beautiful to see the glacier – it was my first,” she said. “I’m not opposed to limiting the number of cruise ships, I think it would be more enjoyable for the locals who live there year-round.”

Overtourism worldwide is forcing new crowd management systems

Scott Keyes, travel expert and founder of Going.com, said overtourism issues are not unique to Juneau.

“We’ve been setting new travel records every month in 2024, and there’s no reason to think that’s going to change,” he told ABC News.

In the U.S., Mount Rainier is among national parks that have begun introducing timed entry reservations to help manage large crowds. In Europe, popular destinations like Venice and Barcelona have introduced day-trip fees for visitors.

In Barcelona over the weekend, thousands of residents took to the streets armed with water pistols to protest against tourism, which they say is driving up the cost of living for residents.

Due to increased demand in Athens, Greece, the city is also considering restrictions on tourist numbers.

Experts believe that as the number of tourists increases in more places, local authorities may introduce restrictions to diplomatically deal with the crowds.

“I’m totally behind the steps that are being taken to make sure that you’re managing this properly and respecting the local environment and everything else,” Keyes said.