Alaska Senators Introduce New Legislation to Bypass Canada’s Cruise Ship Ban
Alaska senators are working to get the state's cruise season off the ground with new legislation following Canada's cruise ship ban.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan introduced the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act on Friday that, if passed, would allow cruise ships to travel between the state of Washington and Alaska without stopping in Canada. Currently, the Passenger Vessel Service Act — passed in 1886 — requires large foreign-flagged ships to stop in Canada before heading north to the state, which wouldn't be possible this year as Canada extended its cruise ship ban through February 2022.
"Canada's recent decision to prohibit Alaska-bound cruise ships from operating in Canadian waters creates legal hurdles that will hamstring the Alaska cruise season, creating additional economic strain on Alaska's entire economy, especially in our Southeast communities," Murkowski said in a statement. "Alaskan communities are already facing severe economic hardship and uncertainty from missing one tourism season as a result of COVID-19… Missing another cruise season would only compound the economic fallout that has been devastating for so many families."
Since Canada extended its ban, cruise lines have been forced to cancel Alaska itineraries while some have pivoted to land-based journeys. The introduction of the bill comes weeks after Alaska leaders pledged to find a workaround.
Sullivan said Canada's decision has "dire implications" for Alaska, adding the state "simply can't afford to weather another season without the tremendous economic activity that cruise ships provide to our coastal communities."
While Alaska sailings remain in jeopardy, visitors can still head to The Last Frontier to spot wildlife, explore the state's expansive national parks (including the popular Denali National Park), and listen to the deafening crack of calving glaciers.
Travelers to Alaska are no longer required to complete a COVID-19 test prior to arrival, but can choose to get tested at the airport.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.