Radiance at Hubbard Glacier - Alaska

An illustration showing Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas at Hubbard Glacier, Alaska Photo via Royal Caribbean International

U.S. Senates Passes Bill to Waive Passenger Vessel Services Act Requirements for Alaska Cruises

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 6660
May 14, 2021

The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously passed legislation to temporarily waive requirements of the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA), allowing large cruise ships to sail to Alaska without making a stop in Canada as normally required.

The bill, S. 593, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act (ATRA), was sponsored by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) to help the Alaskan tourism industry.

It comes in response to a Canadian order, first put in place in March 2020 in response to COVID-19, which bans cruise ships from its waters until February 28, 2022, effectively suspending Alaskan cruises in the process.

Under the Passenger Vessel Service Act, foreign-flagged passenger vessels are prohibited from transporting passengers between two U.S. ports unless they stop at a foreign port. For Alaska-bound cruise ships departing from Washington State, this means a stopover in Canada.

The Alaska Tourism Restoration Act which waives the requirement will be in place until Canada’s order expires.

“The Alaska Delegation has been working every angle to help find a path forward for struggling Alaskans who rely on the tourism industry,” said Senator Murkowski.

“Unanimous agreement in the Senate on this bill provides certainty and opportunity for cruise companies to resume sailing to Alaska, as they have for so many years—and more importantly, helps safeguard the livelihoods of Alaskan-owned small businesses, and entire communities, that serve these cruise passengers,” she added.

Alaska cruises are still subject to CDC orders on cruise ships.

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