Alaska Railroad Corporation Purchases $137MM in Infrastructure to Replace Passenger Dock 

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska – To replace a passenger dock and terminal building in Seward, ARRC will purchase $137 million in infrastructure. The dock is expected to open in 2026.

Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) will purchase $137 million in new infrastructure to replace a passenger dock and terminal building in Seward. The dock is owned by the railroad and was built in 1965. As of reporting, the opening of the new dock is slated for Spring 2026 after breaking ground in fall 2025. AARC reports last year 87 ships called on the dock and represented 188,000 passengers traveling on a cross-gulf itinerary. 

Courtesy of Seward Company

ARRC will purchase the dock and terminal facility through bonding. The railroad must receive authorization from legislature to issue said bonds, and “the debt is solely an obligation of the railroad and not that of the state.” The bond debt will be secured via a long-term agreement with Royal Caribbean Group. 

AARC President and CEO Bill O’Leary said, “This dock is a vital piece of Alaska’s transportation infrastructure, not just for the community of Seward, but for Alaska’s visitor industry across Southeast, Southcentral, and the Interior. . . As maintenance becomes more challenging, it’s imperative we replace the old dock. This new, state-of-the-art infrastructure will serve Alaskans for the next fifty years.”

Governor Mike Dunleavy said, “The new Seward passenger dock is an important investment in Alaska’s long-term ability to welcome visitors to Southcentral Alaska and beyond. . . We’re proud that Alaska is rightfully known as a world-class destination, and our strong visitor industry is ready to continue providing incredible experiences for guests, and benefits to our local communities.”

The Seward Company is a local developer and proposed a sale offer for the replacement dock to the AARC. The new dock will measure 748 feet and “will be the most robust floating double-berth pier in Alaska.” As a turn-port, the double-barge hull features a concrete deck. It will be designed for Royal Caribbean’s Quantum class specifications, and the “modernized facility can easily accommodate all classes of cruise vessels sailing in the Alaska market, as well as potential winter cargo shipments in coordination with ARRC’s adjacent freight dock.” It will be able to accommodate electrification to allow for shore power on both sides of the pier. 

ARRC reports the infrastructure will include a new 60,000 square foot terminal building that will feature “an innovative open floor plan designed for safe and efficient boarding.” In the winter, workstations and dividing walls of the terminal can be moved, making the facility a large flex-space.

Seward Mayor Sue McClure said the “dock is hugely important to our community. . . In addition to the economic importance of bringing summer visitors to local businesses, the terminal building is used for community events over the winter months. We are excited about the revitalization of this infrastructure, and Royal Caribbean’s long-term commitment to Seward as a premier destination.”

“Royal Caribbean Group remains strongly committed to the future of Seward and the State of Alaska,” said Preston Carnahan, Regional Vice President for Royal Caribbean Group, noting that the homeport agreement will be the state’s largest, featuring an unprecedented 30-year revenue agreement to the port. “We are excited to continue to collaborate with the Alaska Railroad and watch as Seward energizes opportunity across Alaska.” 

ARRC CEO and President O’Leary said he hopes “the new passenger dock will serve our current customers while attracting new cruise lines to Seward as well.” The railroad has transported passengers to and from Seward in the summer, “operating the daily Coastal Classic Train route from ARRC’s downtown Anchorage Depot as well as regular chartered rail transfers between the Anchorage Airport Depot and the Seward passenger dock.”

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