Next Stop Alaska: President Biden Signs Alaska Tourism Restoration Act

President Biden Signs Alaska Tourism Restoration Act. - Photo by Canva

The White House has announced that President Biden will officially sign the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act (H.R. 1318) today. This legislation allows for a temporary waiver for foreign-flagged cruise ships to sail to Alaska without having to make a stop in Canada through the end of 2021. 

"This law will allow large cruise ships to visit Alaska this year, a critical step toward returning to normal in a state where one in 10 jobs is in the tourism industry," said Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary. 

The bill was introduced by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) in the Senate and Representative Don Young (R-Alaska) in the House. Canada currently has a ban in place through February 28, 2022, for all cruise vessels carrying over 100 passengers. The Alaska Tourism Recovery act would temporarily exempt large Alaska-bound cruise ships from the Passenger Vessel Services Act (Jones Act), which requires ships to either make a port stop in Canada or embark in Canada. If the bill is passed, this exemption would expire in February 2022 when Canada’s ban expires. 

In anticipation of this signing, several cruise lines including Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, and Norwegian Cruise Line have all officially announced that they will return to service in Alaska starting this July or August with sailings departing from Seattle. 

All cruise lines are currently in Phases 2B and 3 of the CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO). This phase encompasses the guidelines for simulated volunteer test cruises prior to lines resuming passenger sailings in the United States. The CDC has announced that vaccinated passengers will have relaxed mask-wearing guidelines, shore excursion rules, as well as protocol for screenings. 

This is a breaking news story. We will continue to provide updates as they become available. 

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