After the 2020 we endured and the 2021 we’ve experienced so far, any hint of the cruise industry restarting is music to the ears of everyone who loves cruising. Cruises resuming would be a major milestone in the road back to some sense of normalcy regarding traveling so it’s no surprise, then, that a couple weeks ago when Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan started the process of pausing the Passenger Vessel Services Act everyone from the CEO’s of major cruise lines to the average Joe got excited. Could Alaska cruises in 2021 be a possibility?
You may remember a few weeks back the confusing news that Canada was refusing cruise ships with over 100 passengers into their ports until February 2022. What you may not know, is that decision takes 2021 Alaska cruises off the table due to the Passenger Vessel Services Act. In a nutshell, the PVSA forces ships registered in non-US countries to stop in a foreign port. Since most ships sail under foreign flags, under the Passenger Vessel Services Act, they can’t sail straight from one US port to another and back. They have to make a stop in Canada to avoid large per-person fines.
So back to the excitement over the US Senators trying to put a pause on the Passenger Vessel Services Act. Yippee! Hooray! Assuming they can succeed, 2021 Alaska cruises can sail and everyone who “played chicken” with the CDC and didn’t cancel or postpone their 2021 Alaska cruise will be on board a ship. I’ve been overly optimistic about when travel would be possible through the entire pandemic — and I still say now is the time to book your next vacation — but this move feels like a publicity stunt to me. Politics.
Even if the Senators succeed, the CDC still has the cruise industry on hold with the framework for safe cruising. And as of today, there is no indication that will change any time soon. And when it does, there are significant hurdles (test cruises, health standards, etc.) to be overcome, not to mention all the cruise lines have said they’ll begin with short cruises to their private islands. In my mind, all these things are challenges that will make 2021 Alaska cruises impossible.