SEATTLE — Cruise ships did not waste any time heading back to Alaska, with several lines doing their best to salvage the all-important summer season.
Ever since U.S. President Biden signed the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act in May, which temporarily allows U.S. cruise ships to sail to the state without having to stop in Canada, major cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and more announced their intent to resume cruises.
Here are the latest updates for Alaska:
Royal Caribbean was the first cruise line to sail to the ‘Last Frontier’ since September 2019, with the Serenade of the Seas departing Seattle on July 19 for a seven-night cruise. The ship set course for classic cities and towns like Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Icy Strait Point with 97% of all those onboard being fully vaccinated. The ship will be joined by Ovation of the Seas in Seattle starting Aug. 13, rounding out Royal Caribbean’s Alaska comeback in 2021.
“Cruising in Alaska is finally back and we are excited to be the first to return,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Alaska is one of the most popular destinations among our guests, especially families with young kids and children who are ineligible for the vaccine today.”
As of Aug. 1, Royal Caribbean’s vaccine age requirement for travellers will be lowered from age 16 to 12. Children younger than the eligible age must undergo testing and follow other health and safety protocols.
Serenade is the second ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet to welcome back guests, following Freedom of the Seas which set sail from Miami for a celebratory Fourth of July weekend. A total of 13 ships will sail around the world by the end of August.
The Celebrity Millennium set sail from Seattle, Washington to Alaska on July 23 for a seven-night itinerary, the first in a series of 11 roundtrip sailings through the beginning of October and one of the first to return to Alaska’s waters in nearly two years.
Guests onboard will enjoy such highlights as Ketchikan, Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier, Juneau, Skagway and Icy Strait Point. The Celebrity Millennium is the second ship in Celebrity’s fleet to sail from a U.S. port, following Celebrity Edge which previously departed Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale on June 26.
“It’s really incredible to return to Alaska, to once again support the local culture and share its stunning scenery with our guests,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises. “To be bringing tourism and the cruise industry back to Alaska is an honour and so important for rebuilding the economy of several key Alaskan communities.”
All Celebrity ships will sail with a vaccinated crew. For Alaska sailings, U.S. guests ages 16 and older must be fully vaccinated and, as of Aug. 1, 2021, all U.S. guests ages 12 and older must be fully vaccinated. Requirements for non-U.S. guests vary, more details go to https://www.celebritycruises.com/healthy-at-sea.
PRINCESS & HOLLAND AMERICA LINE
To kick off their return to service in the United States, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line held a joint celebration on July 23 at the Port of Seattle, from where both lines are now offering cruises to Alaska.
Holland America Line kicked off its Alaska season on July 24 with Nieuw Amsterdam, while Princess followed soon after with Majestic Princess sailing on July 25. Each line will operate 10 cruises sailing out of Seattle through September. This marks the return to cruising and Alaska for both lines, which combined have more than 125 years of experience sailing to The Last Frontier. Historically, one in two guests who cruise to Alaska sail on Princess or Holland America.
Both cruise lines have been homeporting out of the Port of Seattle for more than 20 years. Operationally, each ship visit directly contributes more than US$364,000 to the local economy.