MIAMI — Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) are the latest cruise lines to announce their return to Alaska this summer following the signing of the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act by U.S. President Biden on May 24.
The new legislation allows U.S. cruise ships to temporarily sail to Alaska without having to stop in Canada, a longstanding requirement set out by the U.S. Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA). The Senate unanimously passed the bill earlier this month and was approved by the House of Representatives last week. With President Biden’s signature, the bill is now made official, giving U.S. cruise lines the chance to salvage a portion of the all-important Alaska season.
“Today, I signed the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act into law,” tweeted President Biden. “Tourism is vital to the state of Alaska and this law will help revitalize the industry and support Alaskans by allowing large cruise ships to return to the state this summer.”
Royal Caribbean’s and NCL’s announcements come on the heels of last week’s news that both Princess Cruises and Holland America Line will be resuming Alaska cruises from Seattle on July 25 and July 24, respectively.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN LINE
Now given the green light to sail, Royal Caribbean has announced the launch of its Alaska season with seven-night cruises sailing roundtrip from Seattle on the Serenade and Ovation of the Seas starting July 19 and Aug. 13, respectively. Bookings are now open.
Serenade’s week-long itinerary features calls at Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Icy Strait Point, as well as Endicott Arm fjord and Dawes Glacier.
Ovation will follow suit in August with stops in Glacier National Park, the Inside Passage, Juneau and Skagway. Onboard, guests can enjoy magnificent views from the North Star glass observation capsule and include heart-pumping activities like skydiving in the RipCord by iFly simulator.
All crew members and passengers 16 years old and older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to sail. As of Aug. 1, the vaccination requirement goes down to everyone 12 years old and older. Passengers underage will receive a test prior to sailing.
For details about Royal Caribbean’s Royal Promise and its commitment to health and safety, go to https://www.royalcaribbean.com/the-healthy-sail-center.
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
NCL expects to resume cruise operations from the U.S. beginning Aug. 7, 2021 with week-long voyages from Seattle to Alaska aboard Norwegian Bliss. The ship will sail revised itineraries from Aug. 7 through Oct. 16, 2021, offering 7-13 hours of port time in Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan and Icy Strait Point. On select sailings, guests will also have the chance to take in the views of Glacier Bay National Park or the Holkham Bay Glacier Fjord.
Guests will also benefit from the opening of the second cruise pier in Icy Strait Point, which NCL’s parent company, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., developed in partnership with Alaska Native-owned Huna Totem Corporation. Initially scheduled to open during the 2020 summer cruise season, the recently expanded Wilderness Landing on Icy Strait Point features upgraded retail and restaurants and the most accessible coastal brown bear viewing platforms in Southeast Alaska, as well as shore excursion offerings including the world’s largest ZipRider zip line, whale watching and fishing adventures. In 2022, the Mountain Top gondola will provide vehicle-free access through the treetops.
“Alaskans are ready to welcome visitors from across the globe to Alaska where they can personally experience the scenic and cultural wonders that can only be found here,” said Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy. “I am grateful for the teamwork and thoughtful planning that many people from Norwegian Cruise Line, Alaska’s local governments, our congressional delegation, tourism industry and the state’s public health team put into preparing for a cruise ship season that promises to be both safe and rewarding for everyone.”
For information about NCL’s SailSAFE health and safety program go to www.ncl.com/sail-safe.