JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Nearly 70% of this summer’s Alaska cruise ship voyages have been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with hundreds of thousands of expected passengers staying away from the staple of the state’s tourism industry.
Alaska cruise industry representatives delivered the disheartening update to the state’s Board of Marine Pilots, CoastAlaska reported Wednesday.
Mike Tibbles of Cruise Lines International Association Alaska told board members that 408 voyages have been canceled so far.
“It’s a little over 800,000 passengers that will not be coming up at this point,” Tibbles said Wednesday.
Alaska was projected to have a record 1.44 million cruise ship passengers this year. But a federal “no sail” order for cruise ships is expected to run through at least late July as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.
The cruise ship industry predicted travelers would spend nearly $800 million in Alaska, making the cancellations a major blow to the state’s economy, especially in coastal communities.
Canada closed its ports to cruise ships until July 1, while Seattle’s port will remain closed for the duration of Washington state’s emergency restrictions.
The industry is working on filing updated health and safety plans with federal authorities in anticipation of the resumption of cruises, Tibbles said.
“I think everybody realizes that we’re going to have to do better,” Tibbles said. “And we’re going to have to do business differently than what was done before.”