Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas was the first major cruise ship to return to the state since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

By Alison Fox
July 21, 2021
Advertisement

Royal Caribbean set sail for Alaska on Tuesday as the first major cruise ship to make its way to the state since September 2019.

The cruise line set off from Seattle on its Serenade of the Seas on a 7-night journey to The Last Frontier with planned stops in Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan, according to the company. The ship features breathtaking views with its ocean-facing glass elevators and the chance to take in the scenery from a rock climbing wall 40 feet above the sea.

"Cruising in Alaska is finally back, and we are excited to be the first to return," Michael Bayley, the president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said in a statement, adding "Alaska is one of the most popular destinations among our guests."

The ship was allowed to leave from Seattle after President Joe Biden signed the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act into law, nullifying a century-old law that required large foreign-flagged ships to first stop in Canada. The legislation was required after Canada initially extended its ban on cruise ships until February 2022, but last week the country said cruise ships could resume sailing on Nov. 1.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Serenade of the Seas
Credit: Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

In addition to the Serenade of the Seas, Royal Caribbean will sail its Ovation of the Seas from Seattle to Alaska on Aug. 13.

On this cruise, Royal Caribbean required all guests 16 and older to be fully vaccinated before boarding, with children younger than that required to get tested at the terminal before embarking and then again before the end of the cruise.

On Aug. 1, the company will drop the age for those required to be vaccinated to 12.

Several other companies have also planned cruises to Alaska in the coming days, including Princess Cruises and Holland America.

Beyond Alaska, Royal Caribbean has completed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-required test sailings and made vaccinations optional on cruises out of Florida. Starting Aug. 1, unvaccinated guests 12 and older on cruises out of Florida will be required to show proof of an insurance policy.

The decision was made after Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis banned the concept of vaccine passports, which has faced backlash and legal challenges from some cruise lines.

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.