TORONTO — The first cruise ship itineraries to restart out of the U.S. for summer 2021 could be Alaska sailings that bypass Canadian ports, with today’s news that the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, followed hours later by word of new Alaska sailings announced by Princess and Holland America Line starting this July.
As reported on Travelweek.ca on May 14, the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act got the first green light from the U.S. Senate last week. Getting the new policy passed by the House of Representatives was the next step, and that happened today. All that’s needed now is a signature from President Biden, and cruise ships will be sailing to Alaska this summer and bypassing Canada completely.
While the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act is good news for U.S. cruise lines looking to salvage the summer 2021 Alaska cruise season, it ‘s bad news for Canadian port cities and other Canadian tourism operations that rely on the Alaska cruise season.
Ships with non-U.S. registry can’t embark and disembark passengers at more than one U.S. port – unless the itinerary also includes a foreign port. For Alaska cruises, the ‘foreign ports’ have always been Canadian. It’s all part of the U.S. Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA).
The Alaska Tourism Recovery Act allows for just a temporary exemption, until February 2022, when Canada’s ban on cruise ships, extended in February 2021 by a year by Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, is set to expire.
That’s the only glimmer of hope for Canadian port cities like Vancouver and Victoria, and Canadian tourism operations large and small that rely heavily on the dollars brought in by the Alaska cruise season.
PRINCESS CRUISES AIMS FOR JULY 25 U.S. RESTART OUT OF SEATTLE
Princess announced late this afternoon that following passage of the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, work with Alaska government officials, and recent guidance from the CDC, the cruise line intends to return to service in the U.S. with a partial season of Alaska sailings from Seattle.
Departing July 25 through September 26, 2021, roundtrip Seattle, seven-day cruises, onboard Majestic Princess will be open for sale on May 21, 2021. Ports of call include Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, as well as Glacier Bay National Park.
“We have been working towards this moment to return to service for over a year and starting with our Alaska cruise vacations is incredibly gratifying. We would like to offer our sincerest appreciation to Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, Congressman Don Young, and Governor Mike Dunleavy for their tireless efforts on behalf of the many small businesses that are the backbone of Alaska tourism,” said Jan Swartz, President of Princess Cruises.
“In addition, wewould like to thank our long-standing partners at the CDC, and in both Alaska and the Port of Seattle who helped make thishappen. Our passion has always been to provide our guests with a truly remarkable travel experience. We are thrilled to be able to do that again, safely with confidence.”
Princess says dining, entertainment and shore excursion details are currently being finalized and will be communicated in the coming weeks.
The sailings are available for passengers who have received their final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise and have proof of vaccination.
To accommodate the restart, all remaining roundtrip Seattle cruises on Emerald Princess, including Alaska Inside Passageand a Northern California Coast cruise will be cancelled. For guests booked on a cancelled Alaska voyage, Princess will offer to move and give priority for Majestic Princess cruises departing the next day in 2021. Alternatively, guests can choose a future cruise credit (FCC) equivalent to 100% of the cruise fare paid plus an additional non-refundable bonus FCC equal to 10% of the cruise fare paid (minimum $25 USD) or a full refund to the original form of payment. Requests must be received through this online form by June 30, 2021, or guests will automatically receive the FCC option. FCCs can be used on any cruises booked by and sailing by December 31, 2022.
HOLLAND AMERICA’S ALASKA RESTART SET FOR JULY 24
Meanwhile Holland America Line, another Carnival Corp. line, also plans to restart cruising to Alaska in July roundtrip from Seattle, aboard Nieuw Amsterdam.
Bookings are open for 10 Saturday departures that will operate from July 24 through Oct. 2. The seven-day ‘Alaskan Explorer’ itinerary calls at Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Sitka and Ketchikan.
“Holland America Line has been cruising to Alaska for nearly 75 years, and we feel deeply committed to trying to help our friends in ‘The Great Land’ get back on their feet in any way we can this summer,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland
America Line. “Given the recent positive collaboration from the CDC, as well as optimism about a resolution with the PVSA, we feel like it’s now or never to give ourselves a chance to bring cruising back to Alaska this year.
“We would like to offer our sincerest appreciation to Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, Congressman Don Young and Governor Mike Dunleavy for their tireless efforts on behalf of the many small businesses that are the backbone of Alaska tourism.”