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Are cruisers losing interest in Alaska?

A year or two ago, industry experts would tell you that the three top cruising destinations were the Caribbean, Alaska, and Europe. This year, the Caribbean has been dropping in popularity, and now, according to Travel Weekly (subscription required), the Alaska market has been softening as well.

Travel Weekly quotes a Bank of America survey of travel agents that found 38 percent have witnessed a slowing demand for Alaska cruises. Only a few agents reported that Alaska cruises had the strongest sales of any cruise destination during Wave Season.

What’s going on here? From my perspective, I can see two possibilities. Perhaps Europe is so popular that potential cruisers who can only choose one vacation at sea this summer are opting for the Continent rather than Alaska.

On top of that, Alaska itineraries are pretty much all the same. Once you’ve seen Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and a couple of glaciers calving, there’s not much need to see these places again. In contrast, Europe and the Caribbean have many disparate itineraries allowing repeat cruisers to sail multiple times and still see new ports. I would guess all the travelers who packed Alaska sailings over the past few years aren’t signing up to cruise in that region again.

Whatever the reason, a soft Alaska market means lower prices and last-minute availability. If you’ve always wanted to cruise from Vancouver to Anchorage, you may still have time to book a sailing this year. Even better, if you live on the West Coast and have a flexible schedule, wait to see if you can get a great deal on a last-minute cruise. The market could rebound next year, so find the savings before they disappear.

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