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]

Cruise ship hits whale off Alaska

For the third time in the past decade a Princess Cruises luxury ship has struck and killed a whale in the waters off the coast of Alaska. That latest incident occurred last Tuesday evening just south of Juneau, where the ship the Sapphire Princess apparently hit the creature, whose corpse was discovered attached to the hull on Wednesday morning. Last year, the same ship arrived in Vancouver following a routine voyage, with a fin whale stuck to its hull.

This current whale was an adult female humpback that measured more than 43 feet in length. Humpbacks are found in waters all over the world, but in the summer months they tend to feed in colder, polar waters. The species is an endangered one and the giant mammals are protected under U.S. law, with stiff fines levied against those who do them harm. It is unclear at this time whether or not Carnival Corp., the parent company of Princess Cruises, will face any fines for this latest incident. They paid out a settlement of $750,000 for a similar incident that occurred in 2001.

On Friday, investigators were still studying the whale’s carcass to determine the exact cause of death. They have not ruled out the possibility that the beast was already dead when the ship struck it, and that the Sapphire Princess played no role in killing it.

[Photo credit: D. Gordon E. Robertson via WikiMedia Commons]