Cruise Town, Season 3, Ep. 1: ‘Cruise ships are back, baby!’

The Royal Caribbean ship Serenade of the Seas approaches Ketchikan during a test cruise with volunteer passengers on July 9. (Eric Stone/KRBD)

Last summer Dan Blanchard, the CEO of Uncruise, said that one of two things needed to happen for cruising to resume safely — rapid testing or a vaccine. It seemed certain at the time that rapid testing would come first. But by December, people were getting COVID-19 shots here in Alaska.

The cruise companies have been raring to go since then. But there were two giant hurdles preventing cruise ships from coming back to Alaska in April when they usually start showing up.

For one, the Canadian border is still closed. And all cruise ships have to stop in Canada on their way from a U.S. port like Seattle or San Francisco to another U.S. port like Ketchikan or Juneau. That’s an ancient U.S. law.

Also, the CDC banned cruises last year. And even though it lifted its ban on cruises late last year, it was replaced with a long list of hoops that cruise companies and ports have to jump through before ships can operate in the U.S. again.

For more than six months, Alaska’s cruise towns have been staying hopeful but also realistic about the fact that getting around Canada and the CDC seemed pretty much impossible.

We’re back with a new season of Cruise Town because — spoiler alert — large cruise ships are coming back to Alaska in July.

Jennifer Pemberton

Managing Editor, KTOO

I bring stories from the community into the KTOO newsroom so that all of our reporting matters. I want to hear my community’s struggles and its wins reflected in our coverage. Does our reporting reflect your experience in Juneau?

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