The U.S. House on May 20 passed a bill that could help restore an abbreviated cruise season this year.
The bill – passed by the U.S. Senate on May 14 – would allow foreign-flagged cruise ships to sail to and around Alaska from the U.S. without stopping at a foreign port, usually Vancouver or Victoria, Canada. Canada has banned large cruise ships from sailing its waters through February 2022.
The Alaska Tourism Restoration Act would temporarily waive that foreign port requirement and allow ships to sail to Alaska from U.S. homeports such as Seattle. The foreign port requirement is part of the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886, which some believe is obsolete.
After a few procedural steps, the bill goes to President Biden for his signature. The bill was sponsored by U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska.
Big news for Alaska! My legislation, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act—which provides a temporary fix to grant cruise ships the opportunity to travel between the states of Washington and Alaska—will now head to the President’s desk to be signed into law. pic.twitter.com/Cknwp32965
— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) May 20, 2021
The companion House bill was introduced by U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska.
H.R. 1318, my bill w/@lisamurkowski & @SenDanSullivan has passed! Cruise lines will no longer be required to first stop in Canada before setting sail to Alaska!
They counted us out, but the Alaska Delegation should NEVER be under estimated.
Next stop: @POTUS! pic.twitter.com/d1Wldng1O8
— Rep. Don Young (@repdonyoung) May 20, 2021
The American Society of Travel Advisors heralded the move.
“ASTA welcomes unanimous House passage of the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act and commends Congressman Young and Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and others for their dogged efforts to salvage part of the 2021 Alaska cruise season,” an ASTA statement said. “Since February, ASTA has advocated for this legislation, and it was one of the policy ‘asks’ in more than 170 Congressional meetings as part of ASTA Legislative Day just yesterday. We call on President Biden to sign it as soon as possible.”
“While our members continue to face challenges and need additional support from the government, setting this framework for 2021 Alaska cruising is a big step in the right direction,” ASTA said. “We again commend Congress for taking this necessary step and thank our cruise line partners for the work they put in here and to restart cruising generally. We’re proud of the part we played in this success.”
Cruise ships still must gain the approval of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to begin sailing, but the industry appears to becoming increasingly optimistic that positive news is on the horizon.
In fact, earlier on May 20, Royal Caribbean International announced the cancellation of a summer cruise season from Bermuda, saying “the likelihood of cruises setting sail from the U.S. this summer is greater each day, and with that, U.S. travelers are increasingly showing a preference for more direct access to ports of departure.”
Originally Appeared On: https://www.travelpulse.com/news/cruise/us-house-passes-bill-to-allow-cruising-in-alaska.html