Cruise ships hopeful they will be able to sail to Alaska this year

Published: Mar. 6, 2021 at 5:48 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -All three members of Alaska’s Congressional Delegation have now introduced bills to try and save the state’s summer cruise ship season.

Canada banned cruise ships from its waters last month due to COVID-19. It’s allowed to do that under maritime law between the two countries.

“I haven’t given up on the 2021 Alaska season,” said Norwegian Cruise Lines Vice-President Howard Sherman. “I don’t think anyone should.”

But he admits time is running out to save it.

“If we were sitting here in the exact same position in May, you would expect there wouldn’t be a season. That would be my guess,” Sherman said during last month’s Southeast Conference.

Even if the cruise lines get the go ahead to sail, it will take a while to get the ships operating again.

“They’re all with minimal crew. The ships would need to be recrewed. That’s at least a 60-90 day process,” Sherman said. ”The ships are all over the world right now. Many of them are prepositioned to be able to do an Alaska season. They might be in Oregon or elsewhere along the West Coast.”

Plus, the industry is still waiting for guidelines from the CDC regarding how to operate during the pandemic. Cruise lines hope to get those details by the end of March or April.

Further delays threaten to cancel another season.

“The potential of how uncertain the large ship cruise season is this summer is another devastating blow to businesses that are facing another summer of low, or no, economic activity for their business,” said Sarah Leonard, president and CEO of the Alaska Tourism Industry Association.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking down on potentially another lost major cruise ship season for the state.

There is some good news from the cruise ship industry. Holland America and Princess Cruises have said they will reopen their lodges this summer, and offer travelers a combination of tours and sightseeing options on land.

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