Anchorage's final cruise ship of the season leaves town Monday night

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - It's as much a sign of the changing seasons as the yellow leaves and bulky jackets: The last cruise ship of the year, in Anchorage, docked Monday morning and will leave about 10 p.m. the same night.

The cruise industry as a whole is one of the bright economic spots in what has been a less-than-exciting past few years.

"It is doing very, very well. The demand has stayed," Ralph Samuels, vice president of external relations for Holland America Line, said.

According to the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation's 3-year outlook, growth in cruise passenger traffic this year and next will pump another $100 million into the Alaska economy, and push total summer visitor spending to well over $2 billion.

Samuels calls this year a "record" and says next year will most likely be the same.

"About 1.2 million, that will be a record year for cruise traffic this year," Samuels said, "next year will be probably 1.3 million. So it will be another record year."

Samuels says that about 60 percent of the total traffic that arrives in Alaska gets here by ship. He says out of the other 40 percent, a quarter of those visitors have previously cruised to Alaska and have returned to the state on their own.

"Alaska is a unique enough destination to be very different, but it is still affordable enough to go to," Samuels said.

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