For the first time in 16 months, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship has returned to Alaska. Serenade of the Seas is operating a test cruise in the region and is also the first large cruise ship to sail there.
Serenade of the Seas Welcomed in Ketchikan
Royal Caribbean continues with its restart plan with test sailings, including Serenade of the Seas in Alaska. On July 7, the vessel departed Seattle, Washington, on its first simulated sailing as per guidelines set by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As part of the test cruise, Serenade of the Seas made a stop in Ketchikan, Alaska, which marks a huge step forward to revising tourism in Alaska, which the suspension of cruise operations has heavily impacted. The cruise ban in Canada also affected the state because passenger vessels have to visit a foreign port when departing from the U.S.
Thanks to U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski and others, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act bill was passed and signed, allowing cruise ships to return. The ship arrived on Friday morning and received a warm welcome from the senator and local officials.
The welcome event was hosted by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), and an award was presented to Senator Murkowski, who took a leading role in pushing through the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act (ATRA) to allow cruise ships to sail to Alaska without the need to visit a foreign port such as Canada.
Senator Murkowski, said:
“I am pleased to welcome the first large cruise ship of the 2021 season. Tourism is the lifeblood for hundreds of Alaska small businesses and thousands of employees. I’ve been committed to help bring tourism back for the 2021 season and keep Alaskans afloat through the hardships created by the pandemic.”
“It was an all-hands-on-deck effort to find a solution to the 2021 cruise ship season and bring a much-needed economic boost to our communities. I want to thank the other members of the delegation for working with me to get my legislation, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, across the finish line.”
“This legislation made it possible to begin to bring cruise ships back to Alaska – so that our communities can have a productive tourist season. Today marks an important step toward Alaska’s road to economic recovery from the pandemic.”
Royal Caribbean International President and CEO posted:
“Today! Serenade of the Seas arrived into Ketchikan, Alaska. The first cruise ship to sail into Alaska for 16 months! Serenade is on its simulation cruise. Senator Murkowski of Alaska and many other dignitaries where there to greet Royal Caribbean. So many worked to make this happen! Thank you! Onwards and upwards team!”
If all goes well with the simulated cruise, the CDC will provide Serenade of the Seas with a Conditional Sailing Certificate, which means the ship will have the approval to begin cruise operations with paying passengers.
The vessel is scheduled to restart on July 19 on seven-night cruises to Alaska out of Seattle, Washington. Ovation of the Seas is also scheduled to begin cruises from Seattle on August 13, 2021.
It’s great news for Alaska and the local businesses that serve cruise ship visitors. There are 78 sailings scheduled to include Alaska for the remainder of 2021. As the cruise industry enters into 2022, there should be more normality when the Alaska season begins.