The COVID-19 pandemic has erased most of Alaska’s cruise season, industry representative says

Juneau’s cruise ship docks are empty on April 23. The cruise ship season was supposed to begin this month, but sailings have been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Jennifer Pemberton/KTOO)

Nearly 70% of this summer’s cruise ship trips in Alaska have so far been canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

That was the gist of an update by Alaska’s cruise industry representative to the state’s Board of Marine Pilots.

Mike Tibbles of Cruise Lines International Association Alaska told the board that 408 voyages have been canceled to date.

“It’s a little over 800,000 passengers that will not be coming up at this point,” Tibbles said Wednesday.

Alaska was projected to have a record 1.44 million cruise ship passengers this year. And the industry said cruise visitors would spend nearly $800 million in the state, making the cancellations a major blow to the state’s economy, especially to coastal communities.

A federal “no sail” order for cruise ships will likely run through at least late July. But Tibbles said the industry is working on filing updated health and safety plans with federal authorities for when sailings do resume.

“I think everybody realizes that we’re going to have to do better,” Tibbles said. “And we’re going to have to do business differently than what was done before.”

Canada has closed its ports to cruise ships until July 1. Public health officials in Canada say its ports will only reopen gradually to avoid a second spike of infections.

Seattle’s port will remain closed for the duration of Washington state’s declaration of a public health emergency.

 

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