The cruise season has come to an end in Juneau, Alaska. As the last ship departed the port last week, the city can reflect on a very successful first full season post-pandemic.
Over one million cruise ship passengers visited the port, which has always been an incredibly popular stop on Alaska itineraries.
On average, the cruise ships that visited Juneau arrived around 74% full due to the restrictions on passenger numbers. This spells good news for next season, with cruise ships already approaching 100% capacity.
Juneau Cruise Season Comes to an End
As Norwegian Encore set sail from Juneau last week, the end came to a busy cruise season for the city of Juneau, Alaska. The city can look back on a successful season that brought visitor numbers back to near pre-pandemic levels, despite cruise ships sailing far below capacity for most of the summer months.
The cruise season in Juneau did have a difficult start, with many businesses short-staffed and having to deal with COVID measures that limited how cruise ships operated in the area. However, according to Renee Reeve, Vice President of Government & Community Relations with CLIA, visitors received the same warm welcome as always:
“We always ranked high among cruise passengers, and this season ranked right up with the rest of them as far as satisfaction.”
“We were really happy to see that because we know a lot of communities suffered from being able to find employees, and businesses were short-staffed, but I’ve got to say, they really rolled out the red carpet for our visitors, and we couldn’t be more thankful and appreciative of our partners,” said Renee Reeve.
Carnival Cruise Line spokesperson Matt Lupoli has been overjoyed by the successful conclusion of the Alaska cruise season, noting the economic impact that the cruise industry has on Alaskan communities:
“We’re thrilled by the success of this season,” Lupoli said. “It’s clear that local tourism businesses missed the economic impact that the summer cruise season brings to the region, and after a difficult period for the industry, we’re pleased to have played a larger role in the first full-season return to cruising.”
Carnival Cruise Line sailed with three ships in Alaska this season. Next year, the cruise line’s newest addition, Carnival Luminosa, will be sailing Alaskan itineraries as well.
Cruise ships visiting Juneau this year averaged a capacity rate of 74%, below the usual 100% and over rates that were the standard for Alaska cruises in 2019 and before.
In total, 1.15 million passengers visited Juneau. However, for 2023 those numbers are expected to surpass those in the busiest year to date, 2019.
1.3 Million Visitors Expected in 2023 During 694 Port Calls
Cruise Lines International Association(CLIA) believes cruise ship passenger numbers will surpass 1.3 million next season. As is usual, 2022 started slow, building up during the summer months and slowing down again during September and October.
“Just like any other season, our seasons tend to start maybe a little less full, and then their capacity rises and peaks in August or so and then sort of settles back down in September and October, and I think this year was the same.”
“I think we had a strong recovery this year, and our forecast is that we’ll be stronger next year and likely return to the 2019 levels, if not a little bit higher,” Reeves continued.
The cruise season is scheduled to start on April 17, 2023, when Norwegian Bliss is the first cruise ship to arrive back in Alaska. This is a whole week earlier than this year, plus the cruise season will end on October 25 next year, a week later than usual, with a call from Norwegian Sun.
Those extra two weeks will be needed to accommodate the enormous number of port calls that are scheduled for next season, 694 calls by 41 different cruise ships. These include the biggest cruise ships, such as Quantum of the Seas, and smaller cruise ships, such as the Windstar Star Breeze.