Since the U.S. Congress passed legislation easing the foreign port requirement for cruises between Washington and Alaska, numerous cruise lines have announced new trips. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess, and Holland America have all said they will sail Alaska this summer.
Now Norwegian Cruise Line has also said it will sail Alaska as well.
Norwegian plans to sail a total of 11 week-long cruises, cruising from early August through mid-October aboard Norwegian Bliss. Notably, these trips go later than the typical Alaskan season, which normally ends in September. That will give passengers a chance to see the state in a different season than normal.
“Seattle has always been our second home, and we are beyond excited to return to this incredible homeport and to once again bring our guests to Alaska,” said Harry Sommer, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line. “We have been waiting for a very long time to announce a resumption of cruising from the U.S. We are so proud to be sailing for the first time in over a year from our special homeport of Seattle to the breathtaking state of Alaska.”
As for vaccine requirements, the cruise line has said previously that all its sailings will be fully vaccinated through at least the end of October 2021. That requirement covers everyone on the ship, including children. In other words, children not yet eligible for the vaccine won’t be allowed to sail at this time.
All other sailings to Alaska aboard other lines have said that they will sail with a vaccine requirement as well. However, Royal Caribbean has said kids not yet eligible to receive the shot will still be able to sail with a negative test before boarding.
Two Hurdles to Overcome to Sail Alaska in 2021
One thing to keep in mind is that while it’s promising that Norwegian and other cruise lines have announced these trips, they are not yet sure to sail.
First, while the bill allowing cruises to skip a foreign port has been passed by Congress, it must receive the President’s signature to be passed into law. That’s expected to happen soon, giving official approval for cruise ships so sail Alaska from the United States.
Update: President Biden has now signed the bill into law.
Just as important, however, is that cruise lines also need CDC approval to sail. In fact, NCL says they plan to sail Alaska this summer “upon obtaining the pending Conditional Sailing Certificate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”).”
While cruise lines and the CDC have sounded more positive in recent weeks about a return, given the slow progress in returning so far, that approval is anything but a formality.
Even so, it’s obvious given the flurry of announcements of Alaskan cruises that the lines are optimistic they will be able to get back to sailing this summer.