Thursday, September 28, 2023
HomeThe 907Young victory: House passes legislation to allow Alaska cruises to avoid Canada

Young victory: House passes legislation to allow Alaska cruises to avoid Canada

The US House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow cruise ships to sail to Alaska, bypassing Canadian ports. The congressional action exempts large Alaska-bound cruise ships that depart from Seattle for points north from the U.S. Passenger Vessel Services Act. Canada is currently closed to cruise traffic through February 2022.

HR 1318, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, gets around the Canadian prohibition on passenger vessels traveling through Canadian waters. Large cruise ships sailing to Alaska would not have been able to do so because the PVSA requires a stop in a foreign country. The return of large cruise ships to Alaska is critical to provide economic opportunity for communities who rely on tourism. The bill heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

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The bill was spearheaded by Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young.

“They counted us out, but the Alaska Delegation should never been underestimated,” Young wrote. “Today truly is a great day for the State of Alaska and our communities in Southeast. Alaska’s tourism economy depends on the summer cruise season. Today’s passage of the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act brings urgently needed good news to our mom and pop small businesses. This bill solves one-half of the puzzle for the resumption of the 2021 Alaska cruise season, and now it is the CDC’s turn to act decisively and promulgate the guidance the industry needs to set sail for Alaska.”

Gov. Mike Dunleavy thanked the Alaska congressional delegation: “Following a year of obstacles, Alaskan families, small businesses, and tourism communities are eager to welcome visitors by cruise ship this summer,” said Governor Dunleavy. “Thanks to the tireless work of our state team, local leaders, businesses, and our Congressional Delegation, the industry can resume sailings, halting a $3 billion hit to Alaska’s economy. Alaska’s well-coordinated COVID-19 response and vaccination efforts ensure this tourism season will be safe for both Alaskans and visitors alike.”

Whether there is time for this season is another matter. The cross-Gulf trip to Seward may not be back this year, because people buy those in advance. But travelers buy the Southeast cruises on shorter notice.

“Betting on that signature, Norwegian Cruise Line has already begin selling sailings on the Norwegian Bliss, roundtrip to Alaska from Seattle, beginning in August. Other cruises lines have also indicated a desire to get back to Alaska as soon as possible, which will also likely mean August,” according to Cruise Critic.

Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.


  1. Hmmm … The Old Man finally shows up for work and actually accomplishes something of meaning value. It’s been a long while!
    Now that we have a new leader at the Alaska GOP, we need to start thinking about a good quality individual and plan a successful transition.

  2. It’s a nicer place to live without the cruise lines I think.. those seasonal places can go elsewhere to rob tourists for t shirts and tours to eat crab legs or fish tacos. Good riddance.

  3. Logging is largely gone, mining is strong but new developments take decades, fishing is in decline, and government is shrinking. If we count out tourism, the only ” industry” in SE will be local retirement, and that is finite. A few tourist helicopters will be the sound of happy visitors and happy locals. Many thanks to the delegation.

  4. We must give credit where credit is due for the fine effort by our federal legislators for getting this passed in a timely fashion! It may be a little late to salvage much of this years cruise ship season but I’m sure the port cities will appreciate the business! If you read the last section of James Michener’s Novel: Alaska, he gives an accurate and interesting synopsis of the Alaska Cruise Ship Industry. He accurately points out to his lament, that our US Maritime Industry, has totally “Missed The Boat” and failed to invest in or become an active player in this trade which is almost exclusively comprised of Foreign Flag Vessels!

  5. That’s great. We are thankful for the tourism industry and the dollars our visitors spend here, but they go back to somewhere when the vacation is over. We live here. Keep your eye on the ball. Murkowski will try to use this to save her backside. Too little, too late. Don’t forget.

  6. These Alaska cruises will be the first big test to see how the various vaccines hold up in a super-spreader environment. If tourists from South America or Africa bring one of the nasty variants onboard with them, and the vaccines don’t hold their ground…….it will be back to the drawing board……..and more rhetoric from Reverend Fauci.
    Production of vaccination will be mandatory before boarding. Does this comport with HIPPA laws?
    Will Chinese nationals who live within a ten mile radius of the wet market be allowed to board?

  7. Well, it looks like ol’ Lisa finally did something worthwhile (for somebody other than herself). I guess even a blind, nepotistic and self-serving squirrel can find an acorn once in a while. Just don’t count on this move saving your failed and doomed political career, Lisa. That ship has already sailed.

  8. Its not a win yet. We have a far left group here trying to “limit” hours of operation for cruise lines and ships’ times at port. The limited hours would really hamper the cruise lines and not make it worthwhile for tourism business. Hopefully this gets voted down.

  9. @Andrew Loren – spoken like a greenie/NIMBY public employee who thinks his job will go on forever no matter what. There is a sizeable group of Kim Metcalfe’s friends, themselves mostly State employees and retirees, in Juneau trying to make Juneau’s death wish come true by forcing the cruise industry out. About the only thing left of the Capital in Juneau is the Session and some of the Governor’s Office. Since Palin most directors and above and their support staff have moved to Anchorage, so Juneau has become younger, poorer, and more leftist. So far Seward and Whittier, Ketchikan and Skagway remain friendly to the industry and Hoonah has become a player. Anchorage is little more than an entrepot and will never be more so long as MOA government allows much of the city to be unfit for human habitation. Talkeetna, like other hippy-trippy places in Alaska, is hostile to tourism, but most tourists just pass through Talkeetna going from and to the train and to more hospitable places around the Park.

    • Art, article in this morning’s news saying cruise ships to skip Ketchikan if the Covid-19 outbreaks continue. Some kind of “friendly” huh?

  10. “The bill was spearheaded by Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young.”

    No, The bill was spearheaded by Congressman Don Young with Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan reading the tea leaves, and riding his coattails.

  11. Another example of why Don Young is one of the most effective members of Congress. This would have never occurred with Alyse Galvin or any other person taking Congressman Young’s seat.

  12. Mr. Chance, sir. I beg to differ on your assessment of Talkeetna being hostile to tourism. In fact without it, Talkeetna may cease to exist. It may only take a weekend to see and do it all, but in that weekend you can fly to and land on a glacier, go upriver in a jetboat to Devil’s Canyon, ride 4 wheelers and ziplines through the forest, helicopters, rafts, and trains. Too much action in the great outdoors? You can peruse a multitude of gift shops, dine in a variety of eating establishments, or sit and get plowed with the locals in the pubs, one of which brews a variety of beers and libations locally. If there is any hostility towards the tourists, it’s only because the town voted to enact a local “Talkeetna Tax” in order to fund an upgrade to the aged waste-water treatment lagoon that simply cannot handle the behemoth influx of waste being delivered to it every summer by said tourists. Previous to that, there were no sales tax, (which, by the way, is a great selling point when luring people in to spend money. Hint. Hint.)

  13. Don’t forget that just across the river from Talkeetna, some miles up a few mining roads, due West of Trapper Creek, you can have a “Deliverance” experience. Their “Trespassers Will Be Shot” signs aren’t meant to be humorous. Thieves and other undesirables who wander in there end up feeding the bears.
    Now if you’re a tourist, you can find cute little places where you can gold pan, for a modest fee. They even run a Caterpillar to cut into gold bearing ore, so tourists can actually have a fair chance to find enough gold that’s worth more than they were charged to pan for it.
    The tiny community of Petersville sits astride a public recreational mining area. Beyond Petersville you will definitely need a 4×4 rig. The “road” requires at least 8 inches clearance. Bed and Breakfast available also.
    It’s not a tourist trap. The people there are just supplementing their income. There’s no jobs in the area but they like the privacy and quietness of it all. Clean. Their places are clean.
    Just ask about it at the Trapper Creek Inn & RV Park. (907) 733-1444. Some travel agencies also list the area.
    I’m not associated with anyone there. I just stop in and have some SOS for breakfast, whenever I make a run from Anchorage to Fairbanks.

  14. This wouldn’t be a problem if we had more US flagged cruise ships. But the taxes and regulations are so oppressive here that ships get registered in foreign countries. Maybe our delegation could work on lessening taxes and regulations so that more ships get registered in the US.

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