Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Corp. lines Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Carnival Cruise Line announced plans to resume cruising this summer, including some voyages to Alaska after the U.S. Senate passed a bill last week that could help save the state's upcoming cruise season.
Congress has voted to let large cruise ships visit Alaska without stopping in Canada, a step that could clear the way for cruises later this year.
The legislation approved by the House on Thursday goes to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it.
A longstanding federal law prohibits foreign-flagged ships — typically the big cruise liners — from carrying passengers between two U.S. ports without stopping in another country. With Canada forbidding any cruise operations through next February, the law threatened to eliminate Alaskan voyages on large ships this year.
“This legislation is literally a lifeline for so many of Alaska’s small businesses that were struggling, and it means jobs for more Alaskans this summer,” said Sarah Leonard, president of the Alaska Travel Industry Association.
Tourism is an important industry in Alaska, particularly for many southeast Alaska communities heavily reliant on cruise ship passengers. The tourism sector was hard hit by the pandemic last year, with sailings canceled.
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Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises to sail in July with COVID vaccine requirement
Royal Caribbean Group announced Friday that its cruise lines Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises will plan to sail from Seattle to Alaska on round-trip itineraries starting in July. Celebrity set a date of July 23, but other restart dates were not specified.
All passengers over 16 will be required to have been vaccinated to board the sailings. Starting Aug. 1, every passenger over age 12 will be required to be fully vaccinated to board.
“We are so pleased that Congress unanimously voted to pass legislation enabling cruise ships to sail to Alaska this season," Richard D. Fain, Royal Caribbean Group chairman and CEO, said in the announcement.
Carnival, Princess, Holland America to resume, require COVID vaccines on initial sailings
Carnival Corp. said Thursday in a statement provided by spokesperson Roger Frizzell, that the plans to resume sailing with paying passengers came based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recent guidance, collaboration with Alaskan officials.
Each cruise line will resume with one ship sailing round trip.
To board, passengers will be required to show proof that they have been vaccinated 14 days ahead of the cruise's start date. Carnival Corp. hasn't announced a decision on whether vaccines will be required more broadly.
"Our highest responsibility and top priority are always compliance, environmental protection, and the health, safety and well-being of our guests, the people in the communities we touch and serve, and our shipboard and shoreside personnel," Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp., said in a statement.
► Princess Cruises will resume sailings in Alaska July 25, and seven-day cruises on the Majestic Princess will run through Sept. 26 visiting ports, glaciers and other attractions, such as Glacier Bay National Park, Skagway, Ketchikan and Juneau.
► Holland America Line will start Alaska seven-day sailings on the Nieuw Amsterdam with port calls at Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan departing July 24 with 10 Saturday departure dates scheduled to run through Oct. 2.
► Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Corp.'s flagship line, will have one ship, the Carnival Miracle sail from Seattle for seven-day cruises with departures starting July 27 and running through Sept. 14 with port calls in Skagway, Ketchikan, Juneau and scenic cruising in Tracy Arm Fjord. The Sept. 14 departure is for an eight-day cruise and will include an extra stop in Icy Strait Point.
Carnival is also working on finalizing plans for Carnival Horizon to sail from Miami, and for Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze to sail from Galveston in July with final details expected next week.
Norwegian to resume cruises in with COVID vaccine required
Norwegian, which announced a vaccine requirement for all passengers and crew on all of its ships in April, expressed its commitment to safety and to working with the CDC when ticket sales were announced.
"We remain optimistic that by working with the CDC and local port and government authorities in the destinations we visit that we will be able to resume safe cruising in the U.S. this summer," a Norwegian Cruise Line spokesperson said to Alaska's News Source on Tuesday.
Tickets are on sale for Alaska itineraries on the company's Norwegian Bliss ship starting Aug. 7 through the end of the season sailing from Seattle, according to a news release shared Monday. The statement from the cruise line did not specify what the end of the season would be. In the past, ships have visited southeast Alaska into September.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival cruises planned for summer