Today, President Joe Biden signed into law the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act that will temporary allow foreign-flag cruise ships to operate in Alaska. The bill which passed both the Senate and House earlier this month offers a temporary waiver of the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) through February 28, 2022 – the date when the current cruise ship ban is set to expire in Canada. The PVSA prohibits the transportation of passengers between two different U.S. ports on any vessel other than a US-flag vessel that meets all requirements for US coastwise transportation.
H.R. 1318, the “Alaska Tourism Restoration Act,” which temporarily allows foreign-flagged cruise ships to sail directly from Washington State to Alaska without having to dock in Canada first until either the date on which Canada lifts restrictions prohibiting cruise ships from docking in its waters due to the COVID-19 pandemic or March 31, 2022.Bill Signed: H.R. 1318 MAY 24, 2021
This bill is one giant step forward for Alaska’s cruise tourism sector which was cut off due to the Canadian Government’s cruise ship ban as Vancouver plays a pivotal role as a seasonal homeport for many cruise lines that offer Alaskan cruises. The waiver of the PVSA is significant, but the cruise industry is still working on a restart based on the latest policies set forth by the CDC before alternative homeports such as Seattle, Washington can be utilized for Alaskan cruises aboard foreign-flag cruise ships. In fact, it appears Disney Cruise Line may have tentative plans for the Disney Wonder to return to Alaska this summer with potential sailings from Seattle.
Alaska Republicans’ Comments to Reporters at the White House
Alaska Republicans Representative Don Young and Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski speak to reporters following President Biden’s signing of an Alaska tourism bill, which allows cruise ships to bypass Canada en route to the state.