Not long ago I suggested there was little to no chance for Alaska cruises in 2021. There is a law on the books which required foreign flagged ships — in other words ships registered in a non-US country — to stop in a non-US port when sailing between two US states. This law explains why cruises sailing from Seattle to Alaska usually stop in Canada. Earlier this year when Canada banned cruise ships until Winter 2022, they took Alaska cruises off the table regardless of any decision the CDC makes to get cruise ships back in US ports.
I still think Alaska cruises in 2021 are a long shot but legislation sponsored by Republican senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan makes them slightly more possible. The legislation which temporarily pauses the Passenger Vessel Services Act passed in the Senate last week and the House of Representatives today is expected to be signed by President Biden in the coming days.
The legislation which will expire when Canada drops it’s cruise ship ban or March 31, 2022, whichever comes first. The industry is buzzing with this announcement and it is a step in the right direction for Alaska cruises in 2021, but I’m taking a more measured approach. The CDC still has the Framework for Conditional Sailing on the table, and the protocols and red tape the cruise lines have to follow seems to change every day. Yes. Cruises are closer to restarting today than they were yesterday but I don’t see a pathway to sailing in the Summer of 2021.
Combine this phased approach to restarting which potentially includes test cruises, safety certifications, beginning with short 3-4 day cruises — which all the cruise lines have said they’re planning to do — and a short Alaska cruise season (normally mid-May to mid-September with ideal dates in late June through mid-August), I’m concerned there isn’t a pathway to Alaska cruises in 2021.