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900,000 cruisers, 192 sailings bound for Alaska

By Elwood Brehmer

Alaska Journal of Commerce

Seattle benefited from Alaska cruises to the tune of more than $400 million last year and the city is prepping for a strong 2015.

The Seattle Times reported March 6 that the city’s port is expecting nearly 900,000 cruise passengers on 192 sailings this year. Most of the cruises from seven operators are weeklong trips through Southeast’s Inside Passage, but Holland America Line offers some two-week trips as well.

About 330,000 cruise passengers will traverse the Gulf of Alaska and call on Southcentral ports during the coming tourism season, according to Cruise Lines International Association Alaska.

The first ships typically arrive in Ketchikan during the first few days of May and the first headed for Southcentral call on Whittier and Seward by the middle of the month.

This year the first ship will embark from Seattle May 2 and the last sailing is scheduled for Sept. 27.

The Port of Seattle estimates the cruises generated $407.8 million in revenue for area businesses, the Times reported. While in Seattle the visitors often take advantage of the city’s attractions, as most cruises begin and end on summer weekends.

Seattle’s cruise industry has blossomed from six sailings and 6,600 passengers in 1999 to more than 931,000 passengers in 2010, according to the Times.

This year the city’s cruise volume is once again expected to surpass the long established nearby cruise hub of Vancouver. About 810,000 cruisers are expected to pass through Vancouver this year, similar to 2014, according to the Times.

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