White House Will Sign Alaska Tourism Bill, Giving Green-Light to Summer Cruisesby Daniel McCarthy /
After passing in both the House of Representatives and the Senate last week, the bill to save Alaska’s 2021 cruise season will be signed by President Joe Biden today, giving cruise lines the green light to sail later this summer.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki during a press conference earlier in the day confirmed that the President will sign the bill on Monday afternoon.
“Today the president will be joined by Senator Murkowski, Senator Sullivan, and Congressman Young as he signs H.R. 1318, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act. This law will allow large cruise ships to visit Alaska this year, a critical step toward returning to normal in a state where one in ten jobs is in the tourism industry,” Psaki said.
The bill, which can be found in full here, allows Alaska-bound cruise ships to bypass restrictions that were preventing ships from sailing out of the U.S. ports, including ports in Washington State, through Canada to Alaska.
It exempts large cruise ships from the Passenger Vessel Services Act, which requires cruise ships to either start their itineraries in Canada or stop in a Canadian during them. That means that Transport Canada’s ban on cruise ship travel into 2022 would not prevent Alaska sailings from going forward. The exemption would then end in February 2022.
Cruise lines were well ahead of the announcement on Monday, as most started to roll out their summer itineraries, and open bookings, after the bill began to make its way through Congress last week.
Norwegian Cruise Line was the latest one to do so—on Monday, Norwegian announced its itineraries, joining Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, and Carnival.
Most of those cruise lines will be homeporting in Seattle starting in July. All have also announced some kind of vaccination requirement for their guests that will make it compulsory for all guests to be fully vaccinated (two weeks outside of the final dose of their vaccine) prior to boarding.
All lines are still subject to Centers for Disease Control rules, which have not yet allowed for sailings out of U.S. ports. Cruise line executives have said that they anticipate the CDC allowing for sailings to restart in July.