The past several weeks have brought more hope than ever that U.S. cruises are on the brink of return. Now, two big moves — one by a cruise line and one in Washington, D.C. — are putting even more hope that sailing from the United States is just on the horizon.
First, Royal Caribbean has cancelled trips this summer that were originally supposed to sail from Bermuda. Second, the U.S. Congress has passed a bill that offers a workaround to stopping in Canada, allowing the possibility of an Alaskan cruise season.
Royal Caribbean Cancels Bermuda Cruises Citing “Likelihood” of U.S. Trips
In March 2021, Royal Caribbean announced a set of 7-night cruises that would sail from Bermuda to The Bahamas and its private island, CocoCay. At the time, no one had any clarity on when U.S. cruises would sail again, so the cruise line decided to add sailings from the island nation aboard Vision of the Seas. (Trips from Nassau were also announced around the same time.) With no trips from the United States, this offered a potential way for American passengers to still sail this summer.
The cruise line has now decided to cancel these trips, according to CruiseIndustryNews.com. They were originally slated to begin sailing in June.
In fact, a check of Royal Caribbean’s website no longer shows Bermuda listed as a departure port:
According to a statement from the company, “The likelihood of cruises setting sail from the U.S. this summer is greater each day, and with that, U.S. travelers are increasingly showing a preference for more direct access to ports of departure.”
In fact, we covered a few weeks ago how trips from the United States were considerably more expensive than cruises from Bermuda or Nassau, despite no assurance U.S. cruises would sail.
A July 3 sailing from Bermuda was listed at $680 per person for an interior cabin, compared to more than $1,000 for similar trips departing around the same time from U.S. ports.
Getting to the port in Bermuda proved much more difficult as it meant passengers had to fly internationally just to get on the ship. Trips from the United States don’t face that same hurdle.
Coupled with the increasing likelihood that cruises will start sailing again from the United States this summer, sailing from a foreign port becomes an even harder sell.
As of now there is no word on any changes for cruises from Nassau, which are still available for booking on RoyalCaribbean.com. Prices run as low as $449 per person for a 7-night cruise aboard Adventure of the Seas.
Alaskan Sailing Back on the Table?
Another promising change for U.S. sailing is that Alaskan cruises look as if they are back on the table this summer.
Since cruise ships are almost always foreign-flagged, they are required to make a stop in a foreign port during their trip. For many Alaskan cruises, this means a stop in Victoria, British Columbia before returning to Seattle.
However, in 2020 Canada banned large cruise ships from docking due to the pandemic. That ban was extended earlier this year through February 2022. Since cruise ships have to make this stop, it effectively cancelled the Alaskan cruise season.
But a bill that already passed the Senate — the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act — just passed the House of Representatives and is now on its way to President Biden.
H.R. 1318, my bill w/@lisamurkowski & @SenDanSullivan has passed! Cruise lines will no longer be required to first stop in Canada before setting sail to Alaska!
They counted us out, but the Alaska Delegation should NEVER be under estimated.
🛳️Next stop: @POTUS!🛳️ pic.twitter.com/d1Wldng1O8
— Rep. Don Young (@repdonyoung) May 20, 2021
If signed into law, this bill will lift the requirement that ships stop in Canada until at least March 2022. In other words, it gives cruise ships the opportunity to again sail Alaska this year.
Of course, cruise ships still have to get CDC approval to set sail if they are to head to Alaska. This bill would only lift the foreign stop requirement for trips between Washington and Alaska.
As for a return of cruising in general, both the CDC and cruise lines have said that a July return is possible.