Planning an Alaskan cruise this year? Better book early!

If you’re planning on taking an Alaskan cruise this year, you may want to book the trip sooner than later. Experts say that several factors, including high demand and limited supply, could make it very challenging for travelers to get the cruise experience they are hoping for in 2011.

According to this story on the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s website, Alaskan cruise operators have seen a sharp increase in demand from consumers in 2011, which bodes well for the travel industry as a whole. An improving economy and an active marketing campaign by the state of Alaska are mentioned as possible reasons for why cruise operators have seen as much as a 30% increase in demand so far this year when compared to bookings in 2010.

Increased demand isn’t the only issue that travelers have to deal with however, as supply has also been cut dramatically as well. A few months back, small-ship cruise operator Cruise West announced that the company had been sold and that they weren’t booking any trips to Alaska in the near future. The Seattle-based company once controlled 30% of the Alaskan cruise market, which is an awfully big chunk to lose so quickly.

These factors are likely to hit travelers directly in the pocket book too. With fewer cabins available, but demand on the rise, prices are likely to increase as well, especially as the cruise season grows nearer. Thanks to the sluggish economy, discounts have been available in recent years. That is unlikely to be the case in 2011 however, when most ships operating in the Alaskan waters are likely to be sold out.

So, if you have dreams of heading north to Alaska aboard some beautiful cruise ship this year, you may want to get that reservation in now. If you don’t, you could face the very real possibility of having that dream trip slip through your fingers for yet another year.

[Photo credit: Stan Shebs via Wikimedia]