On July 9, Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas became the first large cruise ship to return to Alaska following the suspension of cruise operations due to the pandemic.
The event marked the return of cruise tourism to Alaska nearly two years since cruise ships last operated in the state.
Prior to the pandemic, cruise passengers represented more than 60% of all mainland visitors to Alaska, and the industry’s operations generated more than $3 billion to the Alaskan economy per year, supporting 23,000 local jobs.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) hosted a special event in Ketchikan, Alaska to mark the occasion and to thank government and industry representatives for their efforts in restoring the cruises. A special tribute went to U.S.
Senator Lisa Murkowski for her leadership in the passage of the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act, which was instrumental in facilitating the return of cruise tourism in Alaska this summer.
Nine large cruise ships are currently scheduled to operate in Alaska this year, with 78 sailings to take place through Oct. 21, 2021. All sailings must receive approval from, and meet the requirements of, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Following the cancellation of the 2020 cruise season, the return of the first large cruise ship to an Alaskan port, with stringent measures in place and the support of health authorities, marks a significant milestone on the path to recovery for small businesses and communities in Alaska and across the country, reports CLIA.