Ketchikan City Council increases cruise ship head tax, adds pot stores


Those landing in Ketchikan on cruise ships will pay more in passenger fees next year. The head tax has gone from $9 for those disembarking at the city dock, to $11 per passenger, and in 2025 the tax will go up again to $12. Instead of the $6 paid now for lightered passengers and private dock passengers, the tax will be $8 in 2024. The decision was made by the Ketchikan City Council.

Compared to Juneau, where passenger taxes are $5 plus a $3 port “fee,” it’s a bold move for the First City, a way of nickel-and-diming tourists, who see these various port fees and head taxes tacked onto their fares under the category of “port taxes and fees.”

At the same meeting, the city council approved doubling the number of pot shops within city limits from two to four — one pot shop for every 2,000 men, women, and children in the city.

The Ketchikan city staff recommended the increase because it will bring in more revenue to the city.

Between the two cannabis shops in the city and the two in the borough, there are four cannabis retailers in Ketchikan. There will soon be six for a population of 14,000 between the city and borough.


  1. Taxes always go up. The politicians will never understand that the more they tax the more wages need to raise. They want to make minimum wage more so hamburgers, cost more so the average families make more to buy hamburgers. It’s a no win situation until the politicians quit taxing. Everything that moves or doesn’t move.

  2. So SD, is there a difference between head tax and lightered tax? Because the first paragraph is confusing to me.

    • Different rate for those being lightered in due to anchored out, but makes no real sense since their on-shore “impact” is the same. Just throwing a bone to those ships that can’t use the dock. – sd

  3. The reason for the increased cruise ship head tax is because the new cruise facility at the old Ward Cove Cannery is operated by NCL and John Binkley, and they prefer that cruise ship passengers spend their money there rather than in downtown Ketchikan. Simple retaliation.

    • The same thing is gonna happen in Juneau. Huna Totem will run the NCL dock and related shops when finally built.

      Meaning a large percentage of the money generated in Juneau goes to Hoonah.

      Brilliance on Totem’s part. Profound liberal stupidity on Juneau’s.

  4. Amazing, how much importance we place on tourism, then tax the heck out of them when they come. It doesn’t go unnoticed. Detroit did the same act years ago, and now they hurting. Many other cities did the same and have suffered. People take it as a personal insult regardless of the amount. This is not how you welcome people visiting your city.

  5. It’s all about nickel and diming the cruise ship passengers. Seriously, there is a level of service tourists expect from a community. Maybe they should just put some rolls of toilet paper down by the beach. Why bother with trash cans. Ocean is right there. Maybe the costs of shipping their trash to Washington has gone up. Or maybe that could be ending and they need to start thinking about expanding their local landfill. Good on the council for make difficult decisions that they think will benefit their community.

  6. If the city needs more money for the docking then they need to charge the cruise ship line. Not the tourists. Oh, did the industry contribute too much to your election? Same as the hotels insisting that B&B’s pay a “bed tax”. What benefits do the guests receive from that? Unnecessary taxes and fees discourage visitors from our state. Why spend millions encouraging tourists to have them fleeced by local government when they get here. I for one am tired of apologizing to these nice folks for our government. The cruise ship industry doesn’t really contribute to our local economy. They herd their passengers to their businesses, their hotels, with their transportation. The money doesn’t stay in the state, with the exception of a few local low wage local employees doing seasonal work. When at port, they give the passengers a list of recommended businesses to spend their money. These businesses must pay a large amount of their profits to the cruise ship industry to make the list. It’s organized crime. But let’s screw the locals by regulations.

  7. As if there’s not enough pot smoke now, no wonder half the country is so out of touch, just keep them all stoned and out of touch with reality , Pathetic!

  8. Oh my yes, we need to make sure we tax those who are addicted, not get them away from their addiction by putting them in areas where it would be possible for them to refuse that addiction. God forbid!

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