Princess and Holland America to return to Alaska cruising this summer

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Skagway, Alaska, a popular call on cruise itineraries. Princess Cruises has it in its lineup when it resumes cruises on the Majestic Princess this summer.
Skagway, Alaska, a popular call on cruise itineraries. Princess Cruises has it in its lineup when it resumes cruises on the Majestic Princess this summer. Photo Credit: Reinhard Pantke

Princess Cruises and Holland America Line both intend to return to service in the U.S. with a partial season of Alaska sailings from Seattle beginning in late July.

The cruises will be offered only to fully vaccinated passengers. Crew vaccinations will be in accordance with CDC guidelines.

The Carnival Corp. sister brands cited the passage of Alaska Tourism Restoration Act in both the Senate and the House, and recent guidance from the CDC in their decision to resume service domestically.

Holland America plans to launch the Nieuw Amsterdam on July 24 on 10 sailings that call in Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Sitka and Ketchikan and offer scenic cruising in Glacier Bay and Stephens Passage. Princess Cruises' Majestic Princess will launch seven-day cruises on July 25 that run through Sept. 26 and visit Glacier Bay National Park, Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan.

Both ships will operate roundtrip from Seattle and open for sale this week.

"We have been working towards this moment to return to service for over a year and starting with our Alaska cruise vacations is incredibly gratifying," said Jan Swartz, president of Princess.

Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America, said, "Given the recent positive collaboration from the CDC, as well as optimism about a resolution with the PVSA, we feel like it's now or never to give ourselves a chance to bring cruising back to Alaska this year."

Both brands that thanked Alaska's congressional delegation and Alaska Governor, Mike Dunleavy, for their efforts to restore Alaska cruising.

"The return of the cruise industry to Alaska is great news for anyone hoping to experience the rugged beauty of the Last Frontier," Dunleavy said. "More importantly, it signals a hopeful new chapter for the dozens of communities and tens of thousands of Alaskans who rely on cruise industry partners to help them share Alaska with the world."

Skagway's mayor hiking in Alaska.
Skagway's mayor hiking in Alaska.
With cruising in limbo, Alaska adapts

Cruise-dependent destinations in the state have put Plan B in motion.

Norwegian Cruise Line this week also opened the books on Norwegian Bliss seven-day Alaska sailings for August. Carnival Cruise Line, meanwhile, said earlier this month that if "solution to allow cruise ships to visit Alaska" was found, the Carnival Miracle would assume some of the Carnival Freedom's departures from Seattle. Carnival said today that nothing has been finalized. 

The Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, sponsored by Alaska's Republican senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, temporarily relieves cruise ships sailing in Alaska of the PVSA restrictions for as long as Canada's cruise ban is in place, which is currently until Feb. 28, 2022. The PVSA requires foreign-flagged ships to stop in at least one foreign port when sailing between two U.S. ports, essentially requiring most cruise ships to include a stop in Canada when cruising in Alaska.

Princess said that its return-to-cruising preparation is underway and that details on dining, entertainment and shore excursions are being finalized and will be communicated in the coming weeks. Holland America said dining would be available in all restaurants and specialty venues as well as room service and that entertainment venues including the main show lounge, Lincoln Center Stage, B.B. King's Blues Club and Billboard Onboard will be open. Additional performances may be added in order to accommodate physical distancing, it said.

Guests who were scheduled to sail on Holland American's Oosterdam and Eurodam this summer from Seattle will be moved to similar accommodations on the Nieuw Amsterdam. Princess said that to accommodate its restart, all remaining roundtrip Seattle cruises on the Emerald Princess will be canceled. 

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