Cruise lines achieved another major milestone in making their way back to Alaska on Thursday as a bill allowing large cruise ships to bypass Canadian ports on their way to the state passed in the House of Representatives.
"My legislation, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act—which provides a temporary fix to grant cruise ships the opportunity to travel between the states of Washington and Alaska—will now head to the President's desk to be signed into law," Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski tweeted.
The bill, which negates a century-old law that requires large foreign-flagged ships to first stop in Canada, will come as a sign of relief to Alaska's tourism industry as the country has banned large ships from entering its ports until at least 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the news, Princess Cruises announced a series of Alaskan voyages which consist of 7-day trips starting July 25 through September 26. Each sailing will stop at Glacier Bay National Park; Juneau for potential whale sightings; Skagway, home of the White Pass Scenic Railway; and the seaside port of Ketchikan.
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Similarly, Holland America announced 7-day itineraries on Thursday, entitled "Alaskan Explorer" starting on July 24 with stops in Sitka, Ketchikan, Juneau, and Glacier Bay National Park.
Both cruise lines will sail out of Seattle and require passengers to be fully vaccinated.
Earlier on Thursday, tickets for Norwegian cruises to Alaska went on sale in hopes of the bill passing.
"The return of the cruise industry to Alaska is great news for anyone hoping to experience the rugged beauty of the Last Frontier," Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said in a joint statement with Princess. "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."
Although this is a significant step for the U.S. cruise industry, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs to approve the return of cruising in addition to President Biden needing to sign the bill into law.
Most recently the CDC declared in a letter that it is "committed" to resuming sailings by midsummer.