ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Norwegian Cruise Line has resumed ticket sales for voyages to Alaska after the U.S. Senate passed a bill last week that could help save the state’s upcoming cruise season.
The Alaska Tourism Restoration Act that passed unanimously would temporarily allow large cruise ships to skip required stops in Canadian ports while traveling between Washington and Alaska.
Most large cruise ships visiting Alaska are registered in foreign countries. U.S. federal law prohibits foreign-registered ships from sailing between two American ports without stopping at a foreign port between the U.S. stops.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention also last week issued updated guidance on mask mandates for vaccinated people, allowing them to go without masks and distancing in most places.
“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,” said a Norwegian Cruise Line spokesperson through email to Alaska’s News Source on Tuesday.
Tickets are on sale for trips on the company’s Norwegian Bliss ship for August through the end of the season. The statement from the cruise line did not specify what the end of the season would be. Ships in past have visited southeast Alaska into September.
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.
The federal legislation, introduced by Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, would still have to be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and signed into law by President Joe Biden.
The bill would temporarily alleviate restrictions for cruise ships transporting passengers between Washington and Alaska and allow cruise ships to sail to Alaska without requiring they stop in Canada. Murkowski has said her bill is in response to measures put in place by Canada that restrict cruise ships in Canadian waters until 2022.