Alaska Trade Will Drop By Almost Half In 2020 – Other Cruise News: Of Penguins And Polar Bears – Coming: How To Turn Risk Into An Opportunity

by Kevin Griffin

With Cunard Line, Hurtigruten and Windstar all cancelling their Alaska cruise seasons this year and industry leaders Holland America and Princess cutting back substantially, Canada’s inside Passage and Alaska’s fjords will be seeing much less traffic this summer than last. Cunard’s 2,101-berth Queen Elizabeth, now in the UK, is a long way from Alaska and after an appearance in 2019 will be absent for the whole of 2020. Similarly, Hurtigruten’s 530-berth Roald Amundsen has cancelled her planned Alaska season as well, in her case because she will not be able to perform her planned transit of the Northwest Passage in 2020. And Windstar’s 320-berth Star Breeze will be delayed from her refit in Italy. Disney’s 1,750-berth Disney Wonder, however, will likely offer a truncated Alaska season from Vancouver. This week, we have a new book for you and next week the start of a 4-week series from guest editor Dr Jennifer Holland that we are sure you will find of interest.


Alaska Trade Will Drop By Almost Half In 2020

Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia will all be taking a beating this summer as they see the volume of Alaska cruise traffic drop by 47% from last year.

An Holland America ship at Halibut Point Marine - Sitka, Alaska (Courtesy Halibut Point Marine Services LLC - CLIA)

An Holland America ship at Halibut Point Marine – Sitka, Alaska (Courtesy Halibut Point Marine Services LLC – CLIA)

Huge financial challenges now face cruise lines, ports and suppliers as a shortened Alaska cruise season affects all of them.
Restrictions on cruising mandated by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and a ban on cruise ships calling at Canadian ports until July 1, mean a drop from 1.44 million Alaska cruisers to 745,000 this year.

The downturn will also affect a large number of overland cruise tours that operate throughout Alaska, to Anchorage, Denali National Park, Fairbanks and Canada’s Yukon Territory, Alaska will feel the effects statewide.

Sitka, Alaska

Sitka, Alaska

Westmark Hotels, which operates properties throughout Alaska and the Yukon and caters to cruise tour passengers, announced on April 15 that its hotels would remain closed “until further notice.”

Ninety percent of visitors to Southeast Alaska arrive by cruise ship, according to a 2020 report prepared last year for Juneau’s Southeast Conference Visitor Industry Committee. Southeast Alaska includes the ports of Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway, plus smaller ports such as Sitka, Wrangell, Petersburg and Haines.

The Alaska cruise season runs to five months, typically between May and September. The Anchorage Daily News noted in a recent article that this short season has to sustain many operators and businesses through the lean winter months.
Approximately 1.44 million cruise passengers were expected to arrive in Alaska this year, on 43 different vessels making more than 600 sailings.

Celebrity Infinity at Icy Strait Point, Alaska

Celebrity Infinity at Icy Strait Point, Alaska

According to the Alaska Department of Commerce, tourism supports more than 52,000 jobs across the state.

And even the market leaders such as Holland America Line and Princess Cruises will make huge cut-backs.

On April 14, Holland America and Princess both confirmed they were withdrawing their popular Land and Sea overland journeys, often referred to as cruise tours, to Denali and Canada’s Yukon Territory for the entire 2020 season.

Both Princess and Holland America will be shuttering their wilderness lodges in Denali and parking their fleets of motor coaches and rail cars operated under their respective banners.

Windstar Cruises - Windstar Legend in Alaska

Windstar Cruises – Windstar Legend in Alaska

Princess has also cancelled its “Gulf of Alaska” cruises between Vancouver and Whittier. This is a loss to Vancouver as these ships cannot legally be based in Seattle. Also all voyages out of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Affected ships include all 2020 Alaska sailings on board Coral Princess, Grand Princess, Golden Princess, Pacific Princess, Royal Princess and Star Princess.
Princess will keep just two vessels in Alaska: the 3,114-berth Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess, both of which will sail week-long round trip voyages from Seattle.

Holland America will cut its fleet to just two vessels in Alaska, deploying the 2,104-berth Eurodam on week-long cruises from Seattle, and 2,650-berth Koningsdam out of Vancouver.

Norwegian Joy at Icy Strait Point (Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line)

Norwegian Joy at Icy Strait Point (Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line)

It has cancelled all 2020 Alaska voyages aboard Maasdam, Noordam, Oosterdam, Volendam, and Westerdam. Holland America and its predecessors have operated in Alaska since 1947.

This is an unmitigated disaster for Alaska, BC and the PNW, who will lose 655,000 out of 1,440,000 passengers. Even though a lot of Alaska passengers are counted twice (once in, once out), this is a huge drop of 47%.

The closest comparison we have been able to find is the Great Depression, when passenger traffic between Europe and North America fell from 1,068,117 in 1929 to 467,620 in 1934, or by 56%

Of Penguins And Polar Bears

People have been cruising into polar waters since the late 19th century, yet this activity has not been documented, other than in a couple of academic texts.

The new book 'Of Penguins and Polar Bears: A History of Cold Water Cruising'

The new book ‘Of Penguins and Polar Bears: A History of Cold Water Cruising’

This new book, “Of Penguins and Polar Bears: A History of Cold Water Cruising,”  draws on the experience and resources of experts in the field to describe where people went, the ships they cruised on, the places they visited and the itineraries they followed.

Encompassing the Arctic Passages, the Canadian Arctic, Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard, and the Antarctic regions, the book also reveals what the modern-day visitor to the polar regions can expect to experience, from the vessels to the wildlife and beyond. A detailed revew will follow at a later date.
The author, Christopher Wright, is also author of “Arctic Cargo” (2016)

Coming Soon!! Starting May 4, 2020 for 4 weeks: “How To Turn Risk Into An Opportunity” (By Dr Jennifer Holland)

Starting next week we will run a four-part series by Dr Jennifer Holland that will explore perceptions of risk in cruising. The aim is to shine a light on the positive ways the cruise industry can use the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity to “come back stronger than ever”.

· The first article will focus on health risks and what the cruise industry needs to do right now to combat the vast misinformation out there.

· The second article will focus on specific risks that will become even more important than health concerns post-Covid 19 and how these key aspects are critical in how people decide to go on a cruise or not.

· The third article will explore “non-cruisers”, and why some people will never cruise as they perceive too much risk in cruising, and why this segment is not worth investing resources in trying to attract.

· The fourth and final article will put forward recommendations for the future of cruising, and what needs to happen in the coming weeks and months to develop a stronger and more successful cruise industry, which will weather any storm.

This series is based on the research conducted in the UK which explored the influence of risk on deciding whether or not to choose a cruise for a holiday, and examined risk in cruising in relation to physical, health, social, psychological,  time-loss, opportunity-loss, performance and functional risks.

(Kevin Griffin is managing director of The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)

(See the last columns)