The Ketchikan City Council approved the signing of a draft Memorandum of Agreement between the port communities in southeast Alaska and the Carnival Corporation establishing protocols required for resumption of cruise ship visits to the state.
Other cruise destinations listed in the agreement are Juneau, Sitka, Skagway and Hoonah. Several independent ports are also co-signatories, along with the State Department of Health and Social Services.
The MOA deals with the conditions established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for cruise ships to resume operations.
Ketchikan’s Acting Ports and Ports Director, Mark Hilson, says the passage of the deal is a key component in resuming cruising, not just in Ketchikan but across Alaska. Regulations include a requirement that 95 percent of passengers and crew be vaccinated, rules for reporting and what to do if passengers test positive for COVID-19, and that cruise lines have a CDC permit for restricted passenger travel. According to Hilson, the agreement gives passengers free range in the communities they visit.
“Before that there was a lot of talk, especially in the seemingly distant past of ‘bubbles’. There are no bubbles in it. “
Last fall, in anticipation of a cruise season slated to begin in April 2020 and before vaccines were available, cruise lines suggested restricting passengers to cruise-sponsored excursions. But this idea never caught on.
Carnival Corporation also owns Princess Cruises and Holland America Line and others. Hilson says three major cruise lines scheduled to stop in Ketchikan later this summer are covered by the MOA – the Carnival Miracle, the Nieuw Amsterdam and the Majestic Princess.
The council unanimously approved the signing of the MOA. It is now being transmitted from Carnival to the CDC. Hilson says draft proposals have been received from Celebrity Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and will be presented to the council at its next regular meeting on June 15th.