First big cruise ship in 21 months arrives in Alaska: Serenade of the Seas


The first large cruise ship to dock in Alaska in over 20 months arrived in Ketchikan on Friday, when the Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas pulled into port. It was a test run.

The Centers for Disease Control had federal officials onboard, and after a day in Ketchikan the ship turned and returned to Seattle to complete what is known as a “simulated cruise.”

The 2020 cruise season in Alaska was a bust, due to restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Most of Southeast Alaska’s economy has suffered immense harm because of the lack of visitors. Prior to 2020, Alaska had over 1 million cruise passengers a season, dropping to zero passengers in 2020.

Still in effect are Canadian government restrictions, which required congressional action to overcome. On May 20, Congress approved a bill to waive the requirements of Alaska-destined cruise ships to make port calls in Canada, and President Joe Biden signed the waiver.

Politicians, such as Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and civic leaders were on hand to greet the ship in Ketchikan. The Serenade had only about 300 people onboard — all volunteer passengers — and was essentially operating to show the CDC that it had good Covid-19 protocols in place.

Royal Caribbean released health protocols for Serenade cruises on July 1, which include wearing face masks in the public areas of the ship, and social distancing rules onboard.

Among activities that were monitored by the CDC:

  • embarkation and disembarkation procedures, including terminal check-in
  • on board activities, including at dining and entertainment venues
  • evacuation procedures
  • transfer of symptomatic passengers or crew, or those who test positive for SARSCoV-2, from cabins to isolation rooms
  • quarantine of all remaining passengers and non-essential crew
  • other activities listed in CDC technical instructions and orders

Serenade is one of two Royal Caribbean cruise ships scheduled to sail to Alaska this year. Ovation of the Seas is scheduled to begin Aug. 13 for an abbreviated season.

Serenade will sail 7-night cruises, with stops in popular ports of call, including Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Icy Strait Point, Alaska, Endicott Arm fjord, and Dawes Glacier of Glacier Bay, but not Skagway.

Attending a formal event on the dock to welcome the ship were Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, Mayor Bob Sivertson and Rodney Dial from the City and Borough of Ketchikan, and chamber of commerce representatives.


  1. Petri Dish of the Sea. It doesn’t have to be just COVID. Santa Anna’s Revenge will send them all to their staterooms too. Glad to see Lisa Murkowski gearing up for future cruises. Soon, she and her house-husband are going to have a lot of free time for luxury travel.

  2. Cool! We can employ a bunch of out of state workers for a few months! Great for the lower 48 economy.

    • Tourism helps the SE economy, but your point is well taken. A lot of the wealth generated from this industry, leaves Alaska, just like the fishing industry.

    • It’s always funny to me.

      People with the least understanding of the economic impact tourism has on Alaska (local dollars in local pockets) babble pointlessly.

      But you can lead a poster to logic, you can’t make them think.


    • The fact is, a “bunch” of tourism workers from out-of-state produce more in real terms for our local economy than a bunch of government workers from within our state.

      • Coogan has it almost correct. Government workers don’t produce anything. Jack. Nada. Zero. All they do is produce a big sucking sound…… being poured down the disposal with the trash. Government work is a free ride for the non-producers. They punch in at work and mostly play on their computer screens all day. Or use their cellphones to order take-out. A few even watch Netflix at work.
        But, they are the first to bitch and moan when the state monetary system contracts. A full PFD for everyone? No way. Scares the hell out of state workers who fear layoffs. The rest of us have to actually “work” for a living, or count on a PFD to feed our kids.

        • State workers, or most who work in any government job, are Democrats. Easy work, steady pay, and built in security for health benefits. Cradle to grave ……… the government is their nanny.

  3. Yipee! Southeast Alaska can now benefit from the enhanced tax revenue these resource draining human barges place on the local communities……Oh Wait A Minute!! These foreign registered floating cities contribute practically ‘zilch’ except low paying jobs for transients and revenue for their ‘gift store’ clones.
    Anybody remember when the ferries used to dock downtown and the character of the community wasn’t defined by germ laden strangers disgorging on cue into the street? Next time the economic devolvement council does a study force them to put a price on ‘quality of life’ during the short summers for Southeasterners.

  4. Taxes are paid here in Juneau on all purchases. There is also docking fees and other fees. It really does benefit Juneau and we’ve had a horrific loss of revenue from the past year. The Liberals want to stop them yet they don’t want to stop the spending so we need the ships.

  5. Heartwarming picture of Peoples Senator Murkowski leading the cruise-ship industry back to the Holy City of Juneau…
    See Important People celebrating the arrival of the “Serenade of the Seas” and its cargo of “federal officials” undoubtedly wined, dined, and otherwise fully serviced by Royal Caribbean’s very best.
    Only a hardened cynic would ask whether the timing of this history-making event had anything to do with the history-making endorsements of Kelly Tshibaka among Alaska’s Republican Party.
    No? Then why did this epic Rescue of the Holy City of Juneau not happen -before- Kelly Tshibaka burst on the Alaska political scene and became a force to be taken seriously? The Establishment had 21 months to do something, what changed just now? Figure that out, mystery solved.
    Maybe Alaska’s political Establishment doesn’t yet have full confidence in their Corrupt Politicians Protection Act, aka ranked-choice voting, aka Ballot Measure 2, or in the flexibility of their Dominion vote-tabulating machinery, so they need to get some feel-good stuff out there, kinda distract folks a little from what’s about to happen to them.
    But hey… the picture’s heartwarming. If your town’s only cottage industries are cruise ships and government… fleecing Outside tourists -and- Inside Alaskans, it’s happy days for you, yes?

    • Morrigan, I usually enjoy your comments very much but I think it’s time for a reality check for the comment above. Juneau, with roughly 1/10 th the population of Anchorage far out produces Anchorage in any model of economic output. With one of the larger fishing fleets in the State, two value adding Fish Processors along with two World Class Mines.(producing millions of OZ. of AG and tones of AU each year) State Government is a consumer not a wealth Builder. Anchorage , sadly is wholly dependent upon Governmental support, kind of like a Village. Please disparage Government all you want but do some research into the facts before you speak of industry. Thanks, and despite the above keep up the good work!

  6. So if they could get the Buffets on the ships to shut down in ports like they do the casinos, maybe the more food could be sold off the ship…

  7. OK, come all you Branch Covidians, you’re just itching to utter the match fearmongering phrase: “SUPER SPREADER EVENT!”
    You may now rewrap yourselves in bubble wrap and crawl back under your beds, living the rest of your miserable and hateful lives in unreasonable and irrational fear.

    • Too true. That will be the next nothing burger. There’s been zero super spreader events on the thousands of plane departures, just like there will be zero spreader events on these cruises. Regardless of the “mitigations”, there won’t be any spread. Norovirus, possibly. The cult members have to continue this charade or else they chance losing their members.

  8. I take full credit. I was the first person to call for repealing the Jones Act when Canadian P.M. Justin (Blackface) Trudeau shut down his ports to cruise ships.

    I love how we’re sticking it to him.

  9. From that photo, looks like Lisa has found her true friends. Cruising Covidians who retired early…..drawing SS and pensions and have spouses who don’t like to work. Bottoms-up and get your shots.

    • Lisa Murkowski.. …..Cruise Director for the Cruisin Covidians. Should be a new movie sequel to the “Love Boat.”
      Where’s her house husband?

  10. Just checking to see if you’re on the ball, Wayne D.
    You were.
    Serenade’s due in the Holy City in September… Maybe the Dancing Bears’ll do an encore.

  11. Robert A., thanks for your thoughtful note.
    Numbers seem to indicate differently at datausa . io/profile/geo/juneau-ak/#economy.
    Accompanying text states: “The most common industries in Juneau, AK, by number of employees, are Public Administration (3,998 people), Health Care & Social Assistance (2,306 people), and Educational Services (1,508 people)”.
    The web site jedc . org /sites/default/files/1%20Employment%202019%20FINAL.pdf, Figure 7, “Preliminary Total Earnings by Industry Sector 2018”, shows a pie chart, 44% of which is occupied by state, local, tribal, and federal governments, (slightly more if you throw in part of the 9% occupied by the health care and social assistance industry) and 9% of which is occupied by the travel and hospitality industry.
    Takeaway is more than half of Juneau’s economy seems to depend on government and cruise ships.

    • Morrigan, Interpretation of facts is essential to comprehending a subject. The numbers you posted while true, reflect how sick our economy is. You point out the obvious, Alaska is on the Government spending, Plantation Model. My point about real economic output of Juneau vs Anchorage was lost on you.

      Anchorage produces what to sell to the world? Answer, nothing, no economic out put whatsoever. Anchorage does however service International Air Cargo, beyond that it is a service sector economy supporting mainly, Government Programs, (military and other non-productive industries) and sadly less and less oil field generated services.

      Production of goods that the world beats a path to you door to purchase is the Hall Mark of a health Economy. As stated before, millions of oz’s of valuable metals is real production. Take Away- Anchorage hasn’t any Mining or Agricultural Production. She is wholly dependent upon Government $ and always has been. Do a search on exports and you will readily comprehend my point. Anchorage, the biggest Village in Alaska.

  12. To Robert A.,
    Gross Domestic Product: Government and Government Enterprises in Juneau City and Borough County, AK is $895,365 in 2019, Not Seasonally Adjusted
    Gross Domestic Product: All Industries in Juneau City and Borough County, AK is $2,558,095 in 2019, Not Seasonally Adjusted
    Gross Domestic Product: Government and Government Enterprises in Anchorage Municipality County, AK is $4,852,523, in 2019, Not Seasonally Adjusted
    Gross Domestic Product: All Industries in Anchorage Municipality County, AK is $23,604,109, in 2019, Not Seasonally Adjusted
    Looks like Government represents about 26% of Juneau’s total GDP and about 17% of Anchorage’s total GDP…
    From alaskaaircargo we read: “Here’s a list of …goods exported by Alaska: Many Types of Seafood (Pollack, Salmon, Crab, Cod, e.g.,), Mineral Ores (including Zinc, Lead, and Gold), Crude oil, Animal Feed, Fish Fats and oils, Wood.”
    Seems reasonable to expect much of it leaves Anchorage via the Port or Ted Stevens Airport.
    From akbizmag we read: “In the first quarter of 2020, ANC was the 38th busiest airport in the United States based on aircraft operations. By the second quarter, ANC had climbed to third.”
    Bottom line is government doesn’t (yet) appear to be the life support keeping Anchorage alive.
    Hard to tell though, might take another 1980’s-style crash to find out for sure…

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