Heavy Fog Foils Cruise Ship Visit

May 17, 2016

Heavy fog shrouded the northeastern end of Unalaska Island Sunday morning, shown here on Beaver Inlet.
Credit Greta Mart

More cruise ships are visiting Unalaska/Dutch Harbor this summer than ever before. But the best-laid plans often go awry, to paraphrase the poet Burns, and this weekend the weather foiled one planned port of call. 

The second of ten cruise ships visiting for the 2016 season was scheduled to dock in Unalaska around 8 a.m. Sunday morning.  

The Silver Shadow, carrying about 700 passengers and crew members, was slated to stop in for five hours.

Museum of the Aleutians officials planned to open the museum's doors for special hours and greet passengers. Local guides were all set to give tours, and restaurants took on extra staff, primed for a few hours of busy serving.

But it was all in vain.

Dense fog prevented the ship from even entering Unalaska Bay, and the ship ended up skipping its planned port of call and sailing on to Kodiak.

Jay Boyer is a marine pilot with Alaska Maritime. It's his job to board and then shepherd ships into the port of Dutch Harbor.

"They called when they were an hour out and asked how much fog there was, and I told them and they said, 'we have the same here,'" Boyer said. "They probably came within about a mile out from where the pilot station is, and they called again, and I gave them an update. And they said 'we're going to decide whether to come in,' - about 15 minutes later they called and said 'we're not coming in due to heavy fog.'"

Boyer said it's unusual that such fog would prevent a cruise ship visit.

"That's one of the first times I've experienced it myself that they haven't come in," said Boyer.

The captain of the Silver Shadow had reason to be cautious; in 2012, news outlets reported the cruise ship crashed into a container ship in heavy fog off the coast of Vietnam. 

The next cruise ship scheduled to dock in Unalaska is the Silver Discoverer on July 18. 

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