CruiseCritic.com. "Instead, it looks like they're going to their preferred travel agencies and asking them to alert their clients of these deals. It really is surprising to see such low prices for peak sailings."
Just how low are the prices? On certain premium lines, on round-trip sailings (often Seattle to Seattle), the prices have dropped to the $600, sometime $700 range for July and August sailings--terrific values. For last-minute, one-way sailings (usually between Seward and Vancouver, but occasionally between Vancouver and Whittier), rates have hit jaw-dropping lows. Here are a few examples, all of seven-night sailings:
- Holland America's Statendam: $299 (June 13, 20, 27, July 4)
- Holland America's Ryndam: $349 mostly, $449 in July (June 13, 20, 27, July 4, 11)
- Celebrity Millennium: $399 (June 11, 18, 25, July 9)
- Diamond Princess: $399 on first sailing, $549 or $599 after (June 12, 19, 26, July 3, 10, 17, 31, Aug 7)
So, are glaciers, eagles and bears eliciting yawns rather than bookings? I hope not and would lay the blame instead on higher airfares, a factor that will be particularly painful for one-way sailings (as passengers have to fly into and out of different gateways, always a pricier proposition). If you decide to take advantage of one of these last-minute deals, be sure to check what your air costs will be first. In most cases, you're still going to come out ahead, but not in all.
But even if you just break even, I'd urge you go to Alaska sooner rather than later. Global climate change is drastically remaking this land. While the climate has gone up 1.36 degrees globally since the 19th century, in Alaska the increase is three times that at 3.6. degrees This has led to glaciers losing mass at a rate of 1.8 meters a year, double the rate of just a decade ago. An outbreak of spruce bark beetles, that scientists are blaming on higher temperatures, are decimating large tracts of forest. Brown bears, eagles, human communities: all are being impacted, leading the newspaper USA Today to dub Alaska "The Poster State for Global Warming". See it before much of what makes this region so glorious is gone.
(Photo: A view from the cruise ship by Kevin Tostado)