Capacity An Issue As 2016 Alaska Season Fills Up

Cruise Week

With a degree of uncertainty over Med cruising at the current time, Alaska would seem a likely beneficiary. And indeed, retailers are reporting that high-end Alaska cruises and land tours continue to sell extremely well for summer 2016.
But that is also presenting issues to agents who are heavily promoting cruise sales during this peak selling period. For many consumers turning from Europe to Alaska, the space they want is sold already. It can become, “I can’t get what I want now, so I’ll hold off until next year.”
That fits in well with the big Alaska cruise players, which have already shifted emphasis to early bookings for 2017 travel.

Still, not a lot of agents appear to be signing up for 2017 blocks. Just because mainstream lines decide to come out earlier to match luxury lines, it doesn’t mean the agents are ready. The luxury market is conditioned to booking well in advance, but the same isn’t true for the premium market, even if booking patterns are stretching a little further out.
That said, strategic retail planners are booking their space and taking advantage of the programs’ availability. “A lot of people do the research. They want the suites, and on this particular date, they are ready to commit. It happens that when Alaska gets very popular, they can’t get what they want this year, so if they can’t get what they want, they wait,” one retailer told Cruise Week.

Hence, numerous agents are reporting booking suites for longer Alaska cruises in 2017. How much high-dollar business sticks nobody knows at this point, but with Alaska, one gets the sense the odds are better than in other spots.
“With Alaska, over the years, people plan far in advance because there’s all kinds of family groups, planning for 40th wedding anniversaries, etc. So, yes, there’s a lot of changes. But they want that specific sailing, they want that side of the ship, they want things in advance and they are already planning. If our agents tell them what is happening to space this year, they will book earlier for next year,” another retailer said.
One thing is clear. Unlike Istanbul, sellers are quite certain cruise ships will still be calling in Alaska in 2017.

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