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Icy Strait Point opens 10th season with new excursion

Icy Strait Point welcomes Alaska cruise visitors with new tour and Huna Tlingit hospitality for 10th season

Icy Strait Point, an Alaska Native cruise ship destination near Hoonah, welcomed the first cruise ship of the 2013 season last week. As if on cue four humpbacks began bubble net feeding about 50 feet off shore as the first tender full of passengers arrived.
 
This summer approximately 135,000 travelers will step onto shore at Icy Strait Point near Hoonah, Alaska’s largest Tlingit village. Each one will notice that there’s something different about this port of call — from the locally run gift shops featuring regional artists to the restaurants serving up locally inspired dishes.
 
Case in point is Icy Strait Point’s newest excursion, the Ancient Oceans and Newborn Forests Walking Tour. 
 
Just one of 23 cultural and adventure excursions offered at Icy Strait Point, the walking tour is led by one of Hoonah’s most respected scientific observers and brings the history of Chichagof Island and the survival of the Huna Tligit people to life for visitors.
 
For 1.5 hours, guests walk the rocky beach and meander into the dense temperate rain forest, while their guide shares the stories unfolding around them. Those stories range from how traditional food sources are harvested by locals to how area plants are used for medicinal purposes to the telltale signs used for spotting wildlife. 
 
“This is truly a local’s way of looking at the land that we’re sharing with guests,” said Icy Strait Point Vice President of Operations Tyler Hickman.
 
Since its inception in 2004, Icy Strait Point has been on a mission to share the Huna Tlingit culture with its guests. An understanding of the area and its people’s relationship with the land is one of the most important lessons a visitor can take away.
 
With 90 percent of employees coming from Hoonah, Icy Strait Point guides naturally share the story of their home and way of life with guests, often through personal anecdotes or family history.
 
“There’s a sense of pride in sharing our lives with visitors,” Hickman said. “Whether guests go whale watching with us or take a ride on our mile-long zip line, we want to make sure visitors have a real sense of this place and of Alaska when they leave.”
 
Opened in 2004, Icy Strait Point is a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of Huna Totem Corporation, the village corporation owned by approximately 1,350 Alaska Natives with aboriginal ties to Hoonah and the Glacier Bay area. Located 50 miles west of Juneau and 22 miles south of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Icy Strait Point is the only privately owned cruise ship destination in Southeast Alaska. The former Hoonah Packing Co. Cannery building complex was restored to house the destination’s museum, gift shops, restaurants and theater. For more information on visitor activities, please visit www.icystraitpoint.com.

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