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Wet weather dampens start of cruise season in Southeast Alaska

JUNEAU — Cruise season in Southeast Alaska has arrived, with a squish.

Monday brought Juneau its first ship of the season — the 4,000-passenger Ruby Princess — followed Tuesday by the Norwegian Pearl and the Westerdam.

Tourism in Southeast is a burgeoning industry, with nearly 1.1 million cruise passengers arriving in Alaska last year, growing to a projected 1.3 million in 2019. That's according to an industry group, Cruise Lines International Association Alaska. (The family of the group's president, John Binkley, owns the Anchorage Daily News.)

On Tuesday, a relentless, icy drizzle pelted passengers as they disembarked the ship, dampening enthusiasm.

"We were supposed to go up in a helicopter. But it was canceled," said Sadie Brodniewski, a resident of the United Kingdom who's on a cruise through Southeast with her husband, Stas.

The two stood in a parking lot bundled in rain gear; Sadie said they had not yet found a silver lining to the cancellation of their flight.

"Maybe pop into a saloon," said Stas, who was in search of some "authentic" Alaska cuisine. (Read: salmon.)

Temperatures in Juneau peaked at 45 degrees Tuesday, which is 8 degrees below the normal high of 53. Relief from the wet weather is not expected anytime soon, said Nicole Ferrin, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Juneau office.

"There might be breaks between each front but we're not seeing a prolonged drying pattern in the forecast — at least not in the next seven days," she said. She added: "We're bummed about it too."

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