Monday, July 19, 2021

When it comes to the temporary cruise measures for Alaskans; stay the course beyond this year marks the theme for Senator Lisa Murkowski

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski welcomed the first Alaska
Cruise ship of the season to Ketchikan last week, the Senator
has also proposed making the temporary transit law now in 
place permanent, something which could impact on some
of the local planning for the cruise industry in Prince Rupert
(photo from Senator Murkowski's website)

While Canada may have announced its plans to reopen British Columbia ports to those vessels that transit the Alaska Cruise theatre this November, the indications from Alaska seem to be that the temporary law allowing vessels to travel to the state without a Canadian stop may see a push towards becoming permanent.

That at least the rumbling from the State's politicians, with Senator Lisa Murkowski among those voices suggesting that this year's arrangement become the new guideline for Alaskan bound cruise lines.

Ms. Murkowski welcomed the first cruise ship to the state since 2019 last week, with the Royal Carribean vessel Serenade of the Seas arriving in Ketchikan to relaunch the states cruise tourism industry.

The highly regarded Alaska Senator noting of the work that went into ensuring that Alaska had a cruise industry this year.

“I am pleased to welcome the first large cruise ship of the 2021 season. Tourism is the lifeblood for hundreds of Alaska small businesses and thousands of employees. I’ve been committed to help bring tourism back for the 2021 season and keep Alaskans afloat through the hardships created by the pandemic. It was an all-hands-on-deck effort to find a solution to the 2021 cruise ship season and bring a much-needed economic boost to our communities. I want to thank the other members of the delegation for working with me to get my legislation, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, across the finish line. This legislation made it possible to begin to bring cruise ships back to Alaska – so that our communities can have a productive tourist season. Today marks an important step toward Alaska’s road to economic recovery from the pandemic.”

In a statement from the Senators office, the work that went into the change to American legislation was outlined.

Senator Murkowski worked diligently to ensure that large cruise ships could return to Alaska to provide economic opportunity for communities and small businesses who rely heavily on tourism. Her legislation, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act (ATRA), which was signed into law on May 24, 2021, provides a temporary fix under the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA), paving the way for cruise ships to resume operations and transport passengers between the State of Washington and State of Alaska. Due to the Canadian prohibition on passenger vessels traveling through Canadian waters, large cruise ships sailing to Alaska would not have been able to sail to Alaska this summer as the PVSA requires a stop in a foreign country.

The American move came after a number of unsuccessful attempts to have Canada grant an exemption to the Cruise Ship ban for transit this year. 

Something which the BC Liberals, including Skeena MLA Ellis Ross found some political advantage to work with, noting how the Provincial government had not made a strong enough case to the Federal government to seek the transit provisions, while holding onto the spirit of the past arrangement requiring Canadian port calls along the way from Washington State to Alaska.

In media interviews following the welcoming ceremony, the Senator expanded on her thoughts towards making the temporary permanent, speaking with Ketchikan's public radio Ms. Murkowski observed that she is working with her colleagues towards some reforms when it comes to the transit of Cruise ships to the state.
A very quiet Northland Cruise Terminal this year will see
a return to visitors in 2022

In the last week, the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce had called on all levels of government to continue to work towards ensuring that the legislation that encourages Canadian port visits remains in place.

Though with the Senator's comments of last week, that ship may have already sailed, something which may leave local cruise officials and proponents looking towards a plan B to ensure that the Northland Cruise Terminal is once again an active part of the British Columbia cruise industry in 2022.

More notes on the Cruise industry on the North Coast can be explored from our archive page here.

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