Cruise ships being allowed to sail to Alaska is now a reality as a new bill named the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act has been signed into law by President Biden. This now opens the door for a cruise restart and temporarily sidestepping the Passenger Vessel Services Act.
This will be welcome news for the state of Alaska, which has been heavily impacted by the cruise industry suspension in the U.S. and Canada’s ban on cruise ships until next year.
It’s Official! Cruise Ships Can Sail to Alaska
The Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, H.R. 1318, has been signed into law by President Biden on Monday afternoon, which now means cruise ships can officially sail to Alaska.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki earlier on Monday confirmed that the President would be signing the bill alongside Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young, who have pushed hard to get the bill passed through the senate to get the tourism in the state back up and running.
Senator Murkowski, said:
“For over a year and a half many Alaskan communities who rely solely on tourism have been completely cut off from business due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Alaska Delegation has worked for months to try to find opportunities to provide a safe path forward for Alaskans—to help salvage what is left of the 2021 tourism season. Together, with the support of so many Alaskans, there is now a light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.”
“It was an honor to be at the White House today to witness the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act being signed into law by the President. As a result of this bill, multiple cruise lines have already resumed ticket sales and Alaskan stakeholders and business owners can officially plan for the remainder of the 2021 season with some level of confidence and certainty. The journey to this point has been a challenge, but knowing the opportunities this bill will provide Alaskans makes all our hard work well worth the fight. We’re ready to spread the word that it is full steam ahead for the Alaska tourism season.”
On May 13, the bill was passed by the U.S. Senate despite a setback earlier in the month with an objection from Senator Mike Lee of Utah. The bill was eventually passed by the Senate on May 13 and then by the House of Representatives on May 20. President Biden’s singing was the final process to allow cruise ships to return.
The statement released from the White House:
On Monday, May 24, 2021, the President signed into law:
H.R. 1318, the “Alaska Tourism Restoration Act,” which temporarily allows foreign-flagged cruise ships to sail directly from Washington State to Alaska without having to dock in Canada first until either the date on which Canada lifts restrictions prohibiting cruise ships from docking in its waters due to the COVID-19 pandemic or March 31, 2022.
What is the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act?
The Alaska Tourism Restoration Act (ATRA) is legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young to help save Alaska tourism due to the cruise suspension.
The bill provides a way to support local business by allowing cruise ships to sail to Alaska despite the cruise shutdown and the year-long ban on cruises in Canadian waters. It’s all due to the Passenger Vessels Services Act which requires cruie ships to sail to a foreign port.
As a result of the positive Alaska news, cruise lines have already announced plans to restart operations in the state. Three Carnival brands will restart out of Seattle including Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Holland America Line. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line will also make a return.
The cruise industry is scrambling to save what remains of the Alaska 2021 season that typically runs from May through September. it’s also an opportunity to help support Alaska tourism and cruise line business operations which have been hit hard due o the CDC’s No Sail order that was in place last year and then followed by the and Condition Saling Order that was introduced at the end of October 2020.
All eyes are now on other cruise from the US from major cruise states such as Florida and Texas on when cruise ships can resume sailings.