Revenue large-ship cruising is officially back in Alaska.
Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas became the first major cruise ship to return to Alaska when she departed Seattle on Monday for a seven-night Alaska sailing and today arrived in Sitka, Alaska. This makes Sitka the second Alaskan port to see a major cruise ship since 2019, and the first to welcome a ship with regular paying passengers.
The first Alaskan port call this year by a large cruise ship? Serenade called on Ketchikan on July 9, as part of her short CDC simulated sailing with volunteer passengers on board.
This cruise marks a celebratory moment for the cruise industry, the local workforce, regional suppliers, and Alaska’s communities that were severely impacted by the absence of cruise ships in 2020 and during the beginning of a typical Alaskan season this year.
“Cruising in Alaska is finally back, and we are excited to be the first to return. Alaska is one of the most popular destinations among our guests,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.
“We are grateful for the support of our partners, Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and other government and health authorities. This is a return that is significantly felt by many, including those whose communities rely on cruise tourism.”
Royal Caribbean’s Alaska cruise health and safety measures include a vaccine requirement for all passengers 16 and over. As of August 1, that requirement will be lowered to age 12. Kids under those ages will be required to undergo additional testing.
Other protocols include mask-wearing in most venues indoors regardless of vaccination status, designated areas for vaccinated and unvaccinated guests in the main dining room, and some venues restricted to vaccinated passengers only.
In port, vaccinated parties are free to explore on their own or book a shore excursion. Those who are not vaccinated must purchase a tour through Royal Caribbean.
Serenade of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s second ship to resume service in the U.S., following Freedom of the Seas’ cruise from Miami over the Fourth of July weekend. 13 Royal Caribbean ships are scheduled to be sailing by the end of August around the world, including Ovation of the Seas which will join Serenade in Alaska.