It was a celebratory time at the Port of Seattle over the weekend as both Princess Cruises and Holland America Line restarted 2021 summer season cruises to Alaska.
Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam sailed to “The Great Land” on Saturday, followed on Sunday by Princess’ Majestic Princess. Each line will operate 10 cruises from Seattle through September.
Back to the Great Land
Combined the two Carnival Corporation brands have more than 125 years of experience bringing cruisers to Alaska. In fact, Holland America Line was the first cruise line to offer adventures to Alaska and the Yukon nearly 75 years ago. Princess celebrates more than 50 years sailing to Alaska, bringing more guests to the Great Land than any other cruise line.
Over the weekend, Arnold Donald, Carnival Corporation’s president and CEO, was on hand in Seattle as Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, and Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line, spoke to the positive impact of the cruise resumption and what that means to both Seattle and Alaska.
Both lines have homeported at the Port of Seattle for more than two decades. Operationally, each ship visit there directly contributes more than $364,000 to the local economy in provisioning (fuel, food, flowers, piano tuning, supplies), port taxes, and spending during a full season.
Making the Season Happen
Previously, the 2021 Alaska season was in serious jeopardy, given that the Canadian government had banned all cruise ships from its ports through early 2022.
That coupled with the fact that nearly all big ships are foreign-flagged — so they are required by U.S. law to make a foreign port call when sailing between U.S. ports — effectively shut down the earliest part of the 2021 season. Typically, the foreign ports used for Alaska voyages are Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia.
But in an all-hands-on-deck effort, U.S. Congressional officials, state, regional and local government leaders, cruise industry officials and cruise partners were able to successfully achieve passage of U.S. legislation providing for a temporary exemption of that U.S. law; the exemption is in affect for as the Canadian ban on cruise ships is in effect.
Transport Canada recently modified that ban, which now expires early on November 1, 2021. That gives cruise lines time to market and plan for the 2022 Alaska season.
As for this year, the legislation that included the exemption to U.S. law — signed by U.S. President Joe Biden — has allowed Princess, Holland America and other lines to return for a partial 2021 Alaska season.