While Alaskan cruises are not officially back on the table, Carnival Corporation announced three of its cruise lines — Princess, Holland America, and Carnival — plan to sail north this summer. Perhaps even more interesting, these cruises will require vaccines to sail.
“Based on recent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and close collaboration with Alaskan officials, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Carnival Cruise Line plan to resume guest cruise operations for a partial season in Alaska, each with one ship sailing round-trip,” a company press release said.
“These Alaska cruises are available for guests who have received their final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise and have proof of vaccination.”
A Breakthrough in Alaskan Cruises
The news came just hours after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act. This bill allows foreign-flagged cruise ship to sail between Washington and Alaska, without the requirement that they stop in a foreign port.
Previously Alaskan cruises were put on hold after Canada banned large ships from docking. Without the ability to stop in Canada, foreign ships couldn’t legally cruise to Alaska from another U.S port.
While the bill has yet to be signed into law by President Biden, it’s obvious that cruise lines expect that to happen soon.
Trips to Alaska aboard the three cruise lines all plan to start in late July. Princess will resume sailing on July 25 with week-long cruises aboard Majestic Princess. Holland America will return on July 24 aboard Nieuw Amsterdam. Carnival Cruise Line will sail starting July 27 with 7-day sailings on the Carnival Miracle.
These trips mark the first major cruise lines to sail to Alaska since cruising was suspended back in March 2020.
Vaccines Required to Sail Alaska
While trips to Alaska across several lines is big news, the vaccine requirement is just as noteworthy. The question of if vaccines will be required to sail has been top of mind for months. The CDC has already relaxed rules on cruise ships for vaccinated passengers and also sped up the return timeline for cruises if they make vaccinated sailings.
Until now, however, Carnival Corporation had not been clear on if the shot would be required on its lines or not. And while the vaccine rule only applies to the Alaskan trips for now, it is noteworthy. Already some lines like Norwegian Cruise Line have announced all its trips will be fully vaccinated. Royal Caribbean has said some cruises will be, while others are not (it hasn’t announced a policy for U.S. cruises yet).
Of course, a big question is if this means kids won’t be allowed to sail since many are not eligible for the shot. Carnival did say that “additional details on the Alaska sailings will be announced in the coming weeks” by each line and there could be more news on this front soon.
As for other cruises and vaccine rules, the company also said it is “working to finalize its plans to operate Carnival Horizon from Miami, and Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze from Galveston in July. Itineraries along with specific details about protocols are expected to be finalized and announced next week.”
In other words, we could be getting more concrete details about the cruise line’s plans to sail again from other ports soon.
We noted recently that the next 60 days could be among the wildest in the history of cruising as more plans to return are revealed, along with answers to the big questions surrounding cruises coming back.
This news is just one more sign that big announcements will be coming fast and furious in the weeks ahead.