Even more growth ahead for Alaska cruises, industry group says

  • Author: Annie Zak
  • Updated: February 21
  • Published February 21

Juneau’s first two cruise ships of the summer, Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam and Eurodam, arrived in port in May 2017. (Nathaniel Herz / Alaska Dispatch News)

The number of cruise visitors to the state is expected to grow 19 percent between 2017 and 2019, industry group Cruise Lines International Association Alaska said in its annual projections released last week.

CLIA member ships brought a record-setting 1,089,700 passengers to the state last year, and that's expected to grow to about 1.2 million this year and about 1.3 million next year, the group said in a statement.

This coming season and next year's will bring an increase of $137.5 million in annual passenger spending here, according to CLIA Alaska.

The expected growth continues a yearslong trend for Alaska's cruise sector. In 2016, the number of cruise passengers to the state topped 1 million for the first time since 2009, and it grew again last year.

The cruise industry has been growing globally for years, said CLIA Alaska President John Binkley, and Alaska's exoticism is a draw. The expansion of the Panama Canal also means bigger ships can journey between Alaska and the Caribbean.

Some communities in Alaska will need more or larger docks to handle the growth, said Binkley.

The number of CLIA member ships traveling to the Last Frontier is also projected to grow from 33 last year to 37 in 2019. In recent years, some cruise lines have also grown their capacity to Alaska by replacing smaller ships with larger ones.