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 soldalready.
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’tmean 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 takingadvantage
of the programs’ availability. “A lot of people do the research. They want the
suites, and on this particular date, theyare
ready to commit. It happens that when Alaska gets very popular, they can’t get
what theywant 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 getsthe sense the odds are better than in
“With Alaska, over the years, people plan far in advance because there’s all
kinds offamily 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 inadvance and they are already planning.
If our agents tell them what is happening to spacethis 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 becalling in Alaska