Alaska tourism officials stumped by decline in cruise visitors
By Donna Tunney
Alaska tourism officials are peering around
doorways, checking under seat covers and
glancing over their shoulders, looking for
8,000 cruise passengers who didn’t show
up for the 2011 high season.
Preliminary cruise arrival numbers show
a nearly 1% decline from the 2010 season,
although the major cruise lines’ deployments held steady.
In 2010, 878,000 cruise passengers sailed
the Last Frontier, and this year the number
dropped to 870,000.
“I don’t honestly know why,” said Ron
Peck, president and COO of the Alaska
Travel Industry Association. “Our air arriv-
als were up substantially, FIT arrivals from
international markets were up and cruise
The association is trying to figure out
“how each line determined their lead-in
prices and specials” and how those strate-
gies resulted in fewer passengers, he said.
“The question to me is, did the cruise
lines overestimate what they could get in
terms of price? Were berths left over?”
Peck said he wasn’t aware of discounting
in the run-up to high season.
“But if Line A runs at 102% occupancy
and Line B runs at 90%, that’s going to account for the difference,” said Peck, who
noted that the state won’t release official arrivals numbers until early 2012.
Since the major, publicly owned lines
don’t disclose revenue, pricing or occupancy numbers by brand, it’s difficult to
pinpoint how or why the cruise arrivals
The Alaska Cruise Association, which
represents the lines operating in the destination, also is mum about the mystery.
Efforts to reach its president, John Binkley,
were not acknowledged.
Micky Arison, CEO of Carnival Corp.,
said in September that his company’s
brands “did really well” in Alaska.
“We don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t
be as good in 2012,” Arison said during the
company’s third-quarter conference call
with analysts. “We are very happy with the
way it turned out [this year].”
Across all destinations, he said of the
ticket prices for
our peak summer
strong close to
a 2.6% yield im-
well, achieving an
almost 6% yield
Peck, Carnival Corp. brands represented
more than 50% of capacity in Alaska this
year. Holland America Line and Princess
Cruises each had seven ships in the market,
and Carnival Cruise Lines had one.
said, “They were
doing a lot of dis-
on, last January
to March, during
Wave season. Even
back into October
2010 there was re-
ally good pricing.”
Small said she
had searched in
Some ships, she suggested, “may not
have been sailing full.”
“I remember I could get decent pricing
for May cruises in April,” she said. “That
Last June, Ross Spalding, president of
Princeton, N.J.-based Crown Cruise Vaca-
tions, said that pricing had bounced back,
but he was still finding open inventory for
the remainder of the high season, although
balcony staterooms were harder to snag.
One ship, he said, still had every cabin
category available for a late July cruise.
Peck, meanwhile, is hopeful for next year.
In 2012, Princess is slated to add one ship,
and Holland America Line will boost capac-
ity by 6%, offering more departures out of
Seattle and Vancouver than it did this year.
Tips on tweets at trade shows’ ‘social media social’
Agents who are “followed,” “liked” and
“linked in” will gather at a “social media
social” during the Travel Weekly’s Cruise-World 2011 and Home Based Agent Show
this week at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center.
The event is billed as a networking op-
portunity for travel agents who blog, tweet
and otherwise share thoughts and images
through social technologies to bolster their
travel sales. Tom Cintorino, executive vice
president of digital media for Travel Week-
ly’s parent company, Northstar Travel Me-
dia, will be on hand to welcome the group
and talk with attendees about effective use
of social media.
for this event, sign up by logging in to the
conference website, www.cruiseworld2011
will be available onsite at
the convention center during the show.
The conference, which
features nine ship inspections, a trade show and
dozens of seminars as well
as daily general sessions,
runs Nov. 2 through 5, with additional ship
inspections and supplier seminars on Nov.
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