No sooner had travelers begun reckoning with the notion that the cruise season in Alaska appeared to be canceled for a second summer than Congress passed a bill in late May allowing the big ships to cruise the Inside Passage.
Foreign-flagged ships, which make up almost all the major cruise lines’ fleets, needed the waiver to bypass a maritime law requiring them to stop at a foreign port. Vancouver or Victoria, Canada, usually fills that role for cruise ships, but in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has shut all cruise port activities until next year.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was slow to approve the restart of cruises from U.S. ports, gave the green light to sailings that are open only to fully vaccinated crew and passengers.
Seven lines have announced they will sail round trip out of Seattle this summer, with Celebrity Cruises kicking off the season July 23. The 2,218-passenger Celebrity Millennium will offer nine seven-day sailings, calling on Ketchikan, Juneau, Endicott Arm and either Skagway or Icy Strait Point. Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Miracle will start its season July 27.
Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, which together hold about 80% of the concession contracts to cruise in Glacier Bay National Park, will each sell 10 cruises visiting the bay. Two-year-old Norwegian Encore starts sailing August 7; the last seven of Norwegian Cruise Line’s itineraries will also visit Glacier Bay. Royal Caribbean will have two ships operating in Alaska. Serenade of the Seas begins sailing July 26, while the 4,180-passenger Ovation of the Seas will have five voyages starting Aug. 13. Silversea Cruises will offer five sailings on the 596-passenger Silver Muse, with itinerary details released June 7.
In a typical year, more than half of Alaska’s visitors arrive by cruise ship — 1.4 million in 2019. But not this year, and you can blame the pandemic. With the CDC-ordered shutdown of the cruise industry (for more than a year), plus Canada’s port closures, it looked like Alaska’s summer cruise season would be canceled for a second year.
But now, even with cruises scrambling to begin, you don’t need a ship to cruise the 49th state. A cruise visits only a tiny portion of the state’s 6,640 miles of coastline and none of its vast interior. And cruise ships don’t sail near Denali, Alaska’s most magnificent sight; at 20,310 feet, it’s the tallest peak in North America.
“Almost anywhere you go in Alaska, you can have an experience you’ll be talking about when you get home,” said Fran Golden, cruise writer and author of “100 Things to Do in Alaska Before You Die.” “It might be as simple as going kayaking and having a baby seal come up, or you might helicopter to the top of an ice field. You don’t have to be on a cruise ship to have these experiences.”
Here are five ways to discover Alaska this summer. Pick a base and branch out or mix and match, but don’t dawdle. Lodging availability is limited, and demand for domestic vacations this summer is high.
Source by www.latimes.com