Travelers taking a cruise to Alaska topped more than 1 million in the 2016 season. That surpassed a 2009 high that has not been reached since. The more than 1 million mark is expected to increase for 2017
Major cruise ship lines announced their intentions to increase their number of ships to their Alaska itineraries. Alaska's cruise industry association also predicts that travelers cruising to Alaska will continue to grow.
Princess Cruises is set to enlarge its Alaska capacity by 15 percent by 2018 by adding another ship to its routes there, making that their largest Alaska deployment ever. Holland America Line is going to replace one of its ships with a larger one in 2017. This will increase their number of travelers by approximately 3.5% over their 2016 season.
Alaska is becoming more and more popular. This is prompting cruise lines such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean to "increase prices" for trips to the Last Frontier
"Interest in visiting Alaska by cruise ship is increasing, thus is our capacity to meet demand," said Brea Burkholz, a spokeswoman for Princess, in an email. Princess and Holland America are both subsidiaries of Carnival.
"The 2018 season will also be longer, starting earlier in May and/or extending later into September, to allow for more sailings as demand spikes," she said.
John Binkley, president of the Cruise Lines International Association of Alaska, said the state's "robust marketing budget" over the last five years has helped attract more cruise visitors.
"Alaska has been seeking additional ships being scheduled coming through Alaska," he said. "We're seeing the lines are looking for other destinations that are safe. That is what Alaska is — it's an incredible destination, an exotic destination, and it's viewed as a safe destination."
This year, however, the state cut its tourism marketing budget for fiscal year 2017 drastically based on the success of their marketing to date.
Royal Caribbean International will not be increasing its Alaska passenger capacity for 2017, because they had already increased their capacity with Explorer of the Seas in 2016.
Explorer of the Seas is the largest cruise ship ever to enter Alaskan waters. It is almost 40% larger than most previous cruise ships that have visited Alaska. It holds 3,835 guests. That vessel alone increased the company's travelers to the state by over 12%.
Norwegian Cruise Line announced last month that it will send the new 4,000 passenger Norwegian Bliss into Alaskan waters in 2018.
Crystal Serenity, also made Alaskan cruise history this last 2016 summer as the largest cruise ship ever to visit Nome. That ship later went on to traverse the storied Northwest Passage.
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