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Cruise ship market improving for Alaska

An estimated 1.1 M travelers will travel north in 2018

By The Cordova Times

Emerald Princess Cruise Ship

Alaska can expect a 7 percent increase in cruise ship traffic in 2018, with an estimated 1,165,400 visitors coming to the state, says Fairbanks businessman John Binkley, president of the Cruise Lines International Association Alaska.

Seabourn Cruise Line, with offices in Seattle and Miami, FL, entered the Alaska market in 2017 and in 2018, WindStar is expected to have Alaska sailings, Binkley said.

Seabourn is already promoting Alaska cruises, including a 14-day glacier and fjord adventure beginning in Seward, and arriving two weeks later in Vancouver, British Columbia. Cost run from $5,999 per person, not including taxes, fees and port expenses totaling $600, to $20,999, based on double occupancy.

Windstar Cruises, based in Seattle, also will be in Alaska in 2018, Binkley said. Windstar also is offering a variety of cruises between Seward and Vancouver.

Binkley said in a recent interview with the online publication The Maritime Executive that Alaska’s cruise market is heating up, with more cruise lines adding Alaska to their schedules, and others increasing their presence with newer and larger ships. The state is poised for record numbers of cruise patrons in 2018 and 2019, he said.

According to cruise industry reports, about 30 percent of cruise passengers to Alaska are first tie cruisers, but some customers are now repeating such trips several times, returning for new experience and new ships.

The Maritime Executive noted that Holland America Line added a seventh ship in 2017, and that in 2018 the company plans to increase capacity by another three percent, moving one vessel to seven-day crises and another eight percent in 2018 for over 255,000 berths in all.

Princess Cruises, which has been running cruises in Alaska since 1969, plans to add a seventh ship to the Alaska market in 2018. Its fleet includes the 141,000-gross ton, 3,560-berth Royal Princess.

Norwegian Cruise Line is bringing to the 49th state in June its brand new 167,800 gross ton, 4,000-berth Norwegian Bliss, the largest cruise ship ever to sail in Alaska, and will increase its overall capacity in Alaska by 18 percent, the publication said.

Royal Caribbean International is bringing its three-year old, 168,666 gross ton, 4,180-passenger Ovation of the Seas to Alaska in 2019, and its sister brand, Celebrity Cruises, will be replacing it’s a smaller passenger vessel with the Celebrity Eclipse, which holds 2,850 passengers, also in 2019.

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