Six, southeast Alaska communities dependent on cruise tourism are getting a $10 million proverbial shot in the arm from the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania.
The $10 million cash donation goes directly to humanitarian relief in the port communities of Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Hoonah, Seward and Sitka, which the cruise company acknowledges are facing dire economic hardship from the suspension in cruising.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has also joined the ‘Shop Alaska’ program to support small businesses in the state that have been most severely affected by the ongoing cruise ban.
The program was launched by BuyAlaska and Voyij.com to directly drive online sales revenue to local Alaskan retailers to help them survive the lack of cruise and other travellers’ visits to their bricks and mortar shops in Alaskan communities. Shoppers globally can virtually browse and purchase at Alaskan stores at https://voyij.com/shop-local-alaska.
NCLH notes that 60% of all tourism in Alaska is cruising in the mild months. This marks the start of the second cruise season of the pandemic with no ships sailing to Alaskan ports.
CLIA estimates that nearly 1.4 million passengers visited Alaska on close to 600 cruises in 2019, and the Government of Alaska estimates the cancellation of both the 2020 and 2021 cruise seasons would result in a devastating $3.3 billion hit to the state. Two-thirds of those losses would fall on local community businesses, along with 22,000 lost jobs.
“My heart breaks for Alaska and its wonderful people as we face a potential second year of zero cruise operations during the all-important summer tourism season, bringing yet another blow to Alaska’s tourism economy,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
“Alaska is one of our guests’ most popular cruise destinations and we are doing everything in our power to safely resume operations in the U.S. which will provide much needed relief to the families, communities and small businesses who rely on cruise tourism for their livelihoods.”
NCLH reiterates it’s “working diligently” to resume cruising in all U.S. waters, including Alaska.
In early April, NCLH submitted a plan to the CDC to recommence cruising by July 4th under a strict health and safety program that includes mandatory vaccinations of all guests and crew. On its part, the CDC has advised that vaccinated persons may cruise, and discussions continue to create a path to the resumption of cruising in U.S. waters by sometime this summer.
However, there has still been no announcement of a resolution of the other hurdle facing the restart of cruising to Alaska this year. Canada’s cruise ban effectively also shuts down cruising to Alaska. In order to resume cruises from U.S. ports to Alaska, American laws banning U.S – U.S. sailings would have to be temporarily or permanently lifted – or a workaround of the law like a ‘technical’ stop in Vancouver, where no one would be permitted on or off the ship, would have to be approved.