President Biden Signed a Bill to Restart Alaska Cruises for Summer 2021: The Alaska Tourism Restoration Act would permit large foreign flagged cruise ships to sail Alaska even without stopping in a foreign port in Canada.
Until this legislation, the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) has prevented foreign-flagged passenger ships from sailing between U.S. ports without making a stop at a foreign port such as those in Canada. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Transport Canada has banned all large ship cruising in Canadian waters until February 28, 2022. This made it impossible for cruise lines to operate Alaska sailings until the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act was signed, waiving the foreign port stop requirement until Canada rescinds its ban on cruising in Canadian waters.
While a few smaller cruise lines such as Lindblad Expeditions, which carry fewer than 250 guests, were able to continue cruising Alaskan waters, the majority of cruisers are carried on larger ships that were prohibited due to the PVSA. Cruises bring ~60 percent of all visitors to Alaska, and roughly 10 percent of employment in Alaska is tourism related.
Even with the signing of the legislation, cruise lines still require CDC approval to sail. The CDC has indicated that sailings could restart by mid-summer 2021 if 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are vaccinated. All the cruise lines that would commence sailing in Alaska have new policies that require proof of vaccination.
Several cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean and its subsidiary Celebrity Cruises have already announced Alaska cruises departing July 19, July 26 (Serenade of the Seas, already sold out), August 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, September 6, 13, 20 (Serenade of the Seas) and July 23, July 30 and August 6 (Celebrity Summit).
Holland America, Princess, and Carnival are also restarting Alaska cruises in July 2021, while Norwegian Cruise Line is restarting in August 2021.
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