Another cruise ship season comes to an end. All indicators suggest the cruise ship visitor numbers are up from 2012. Skagway Alaska was scheduled to receive 800,000 cruise ship visitors in 2013.
Cruise ship operators planned 26 ships visiting Skagway making 400 visits bringing 802,000 visitors. Approximately, 400,000 people were expected to take the scenic Whitepass and Yukon Route railway in 2013.
The Alaska Department of Labor released unemployment numbers that show Alaska’s seasonally adjusted rate was 6.3% in July, but Skagway had the state’s second lowest rate of unemployment at 2.3%.
The Alaska Cruise Association is forecasting just more than 1 million total passengers for the 2013 season (for the state). A correct prediction would mean a return to the industry’s peak activity in Alaska in 2008 and 2009, when cruise ships carried more than a million passengers in the state’s waters each year. Nearly 60 percent of all visitors to Alaska come via cruise ship, according to Cruise Association statistics. Adding capacity is an industry response to the state agreeing to cut the cruise ship head tax, which played a part in the declining capacity in 2008-09.
The Alaska cruise industry is concerned over the Environmental Protection Agency’s Emission Control Area, or ECA, requiring cruises to burn ultra low-sulfur fuel in upcoming years.
The official 2013 cruise ship visitor numbers will not be available for some weeks. All indicators point to a recovery to the numbers of 5 years ago.
The week was the 5 year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the ensuing financial crisis. The consumer is slowly recovering and the demographic trends are positive for the cruise ship part of the tourism industry.