The 2013 cruise season will continue its rebound but fall shy of Alaska’s best years ever as 31 ships are scheduled to call 396 times for a total passenger gain of 65,647 over 2012. The 2,850-passenger Celebrity Solstice is replacing the 2,038-passenger Infinity, the 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle will replace the 2,124-passenger Carnival Spirit and the 2,600-passenger Grand Princess will replace the 1,950-passenger Sea Princess on a San Francisco round-trip. Oceania is returning the 700-passenger Regatta to Alaska after a year’s hiatus. The Amsterdam will switch to a 7-day Inside Passage sailing, which will double the number of visits. Juneau will remain the most popular port of call with an estimated 934,074 cruise visitors, followed by Ketchikan with 917,974 and Skagway with 791,972. A total of 165,996 cruise visitors are expected to cross the Gulf of Alaska and either begin or end their cruise in Anchorage via the ports of Seward and Whittier. The redeployment of the Amsterdam from a two-week to a one-week schedule impacts many ports in Southcentral Alaska, especially Anchorage and Kodiak, which will lose their only regularly scheduled cruise ship.
Four ships will visit Kodiak five times, a loss of nine c Two Hapag-Lloyd Cruise ships – the Bremen and the Hanseatic – will call six times on Nome for a total visitation of 1,824. Four ships will stop in Dutch Harbor and one in Valdez.
Alaska enjoyed a record peak of cruise visitors in 2008, when 1,032,074 cruise passengers sailed Alaska waters. Despite a strong global cruise industry, however, the next two years saw a decline in Alaska cruise ship passengers and revenue, due in part to a citizens’ initiative that significantly raised the cost of coming to Alaska through the imposition of four new taxes, including a $50 per person head tax. In 2010 the state lost three ships and approximately 142,000 passengers – a 17 percent decline in cruise business after 30 years of growth. In response, the Alaska State Legislature passed SB 312, paving the way to a comeback for the state’s cruise businesses. The bill adjusted the cruise passenger excise tax from $46 to $34.50, with a credit for head taxes charged by other ports.