Two cruise lines owned by industry giant Carnival Corp. announced ship redeployments Wednesday that will result in two fewer ships visiting Southeast Alaska in 2011.
Holland America Line's 1,270-capacity Ryndam will sail to Europe, leaving seven of the company's ships in Alaska during the 2011 summer tourist season instead of eight.
The Alaska capacity reduction for Holland America Line will be about 7 percent, or 16,000 passengers.
Strong demand for cruising in Europe and higher costs of doing business in Alaska drove the changes, Public Relations Manager Sarah Scoltock said.
The 710-passenger Royal Princess will depart the Princess Cruises fleet in 2011, resulting in one less ship in Alaska for that line. The ship will be transferred to sister company P&O Cruises in the U.K.
The two companies announcing redeployments Wednesday are the largest cruise operators in Alaska.
Princess, along with three additional companies, already announced the redeployment of a total of four ships next year.
Those losses were somewhat offset by Disney Cruise Line and Crystal Cruises announcing new sailings to Alaska in 2011, but the net result is still a large loss of passengers, Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Lorene Palmer said.
Palmer already estimates a loss in 2010 of about 150,000 passengers visiting Juneau compared to this year. Even with the additional Disney and Crystal cruises the following year, tourism numbers in 2011 will likely be 113,000 fewer passengers than this year. Estimates could change since companies have not finalized itineraries.
Wednesday's announcements would have cumulative negative effects on parts of the business community, Palmer said.
"It sets a tone that is a bit discouraging to those who are just building and starting to grow, and thinking of the cruise industry and its passengers as a way to build a business," Palmer said. "This kind of information is a further erosion of our tourism economy."
The loss of passengers means the loss of word-of-mouth marketing opportunities for the state, as well as the loss of potential return business, since many cruise customers come back to Alaska as independent travelers, Palmer said.
The loss of passengers also impacts the city's finances.
The city faces an $8 million deficit over a three-year period due to declining sales tax revenues. About 5 percent of the deficit is attributed to the loss of spending in the tourism sector.
Contact reporter Kim Marquis at 523-2279 or email@example.com.
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