The economic toll of COVID 19 on the cruise industry is devastating, but the people of Alaska may be the biggest losers in the whole ordeal. Mike Tibbles, a Cruise Lines International Association Alaska representative, spoke to the Alaska Board of Marine Pilots this week and explained that with the reduced number of cruisers to the state in 2020, the loss in revenue would total around $800 million.
70% of 2020 cruises to Alaska have already been cancelled and the remaining sailings are on thin ice as cruise lines continue pushing back their return to normal operation. As of now, most cruise lines hope to be back in operation by July when Alaska season would normally be in full swing.
Shortened Alaska Cruise Season
As of now, the hope is that the Alaska season will begin in the late summer, but even a reduced season is devastating to the state’s economy. Estimates before the COVID 19 outbreak had the number of cruisers to the state at over 1.4 million this year. With a shortened season, Tibbles said that the number would be around 800,000 less than the previous estimate.
That’s less than half.
The many coastal communities of Alaska will be the hardest hit, but $800 million in lost revenue is a blow to the state as a whole. Businesses in places like Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway and more make much of their yearly revenue from cruise ship passengers and many are already preparing for a year or more without it should cruising to the state not return in 2020.
Canada’s No-Cruise Order
One of the biggest challenges facing Alaska season is that Canada has barred cruise ships from visiting the country until July 1. British Columbia is a popular region for calls or embarkations on Alaskan itineraries and their closure is giving cruise lines headaches trying to plan cruises. To make things more difficult, Canadian officials have been vocal that a reopening of ports would be gradual, so the July 1 date would mark the start of that process, not a total return to normal.
Seattle, Washington is another popular embarkation port for Alaska itineraries but the state has been hit hard by COVID 19 and until Governor Jay Inslee lifts the declaration of emergency, there won’t be any cruises to Alaska from Port Seattle.
Do Your Part to Help
If you want to help the people of Alaska make it through the cruise stoppage, consider ordering some goods made in the state. Many of the shops in cruise ports have websites and everything in the store can be purchased online. A quick Google search for “Local Alaska Goods” would give you tons of options. In fact, a gift basket of Alaskan-made goods would make a great Mother’s Day gift!