May 27, 2021 (Anchorage, AK) – Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy today announced the State of Alaska, several southeast Alaska communities, and Norwegian Cruise Line signed the first Local Multi-Port Agreement, accomplishing a large component of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Conditional Sailing Order.
The collaborative effort included Alaskans at local, state, and federal delegation levels in partnership with private businesses and serves as framework for future Local Port Agreements. Southeast Alaska communities and ports, including the City of Hoonah, Icy Strait Point, City and Borough of Juneau, A.J. Juneau Dock, Ward Cove, the City of Ketchikan, Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Pacific & Arctic Railway & Navigation Company, and the Municipality of Skagway all joined forces with the State of Alaska to develop this first agreement.
“In August of last year, we asked the CDC to let us do what Alaska does best,” said Governor Dunleavy. “Specifically, we articulated that the State of Alaska, port communities, and the cruise industry have an exemplary record of safety when it comes to communicable diseases on cruise ships. As we have said for many months, Alaska has led the country in response to this pandemic with low case counts, hospitalizations, death rates, and successful vaccination efforts. Alaska is a COVID-safe travel destination and we look forward to welcoming tourists back this summer.”
The CDC removed the No Sail Order in October last year and replaced it with a Framework for Conditional Sailing Order. As part of the framework, cruise lines must submit an application, including a number of agreements, to CDC for their review and approval prior to being issued a Conditional Sailing Certificate to begin passenger operations. A significant requirement of the framework includes local port agreements among communities, port authorities, state or local health authorities, and the cruise line operator. The agreements specify a set of safety protocols to mitigate the introduction of COVID-19 aboard the vessels, reduce the potential for outbreaks, and plan for responses to cases during voyages.
“We thank the State of Alaska for facilitating the development of this agreement, the first agreement that will be submitted to CDC for their approval for Alaska,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “This agreement brings us one step closer to commencing our first cruise in the U.S. in more than a year. We look forward to welcoming our guests back onboard to explore the Last Frontier which will provide much needed relief to Alaskan small businesses, families and communities as we salvage part of the all-important Alaska cruise season.”
“Huna Totem’s success always comes from bringing the right people together. Collaborating with the Governor’s team, the City of Hoonah, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, and the other ports, we created a template to follow for safe operation, getting Alaska back to business,” said President & CEO of Huna Totem Corporation Russell Dick. “Huna Totem and our team at Icy Strait Point especially want to thank Governor Dunleavy for his commitment, leading his dedicated team to get these guidelines done and delivered to the CDC for review. Getting restarted this year brings economic life back to Alaska and hope for sustainable future for all Alaskans.”
On Thursday, May 20th, the United States Congress approved a bill to waive the requirements of Alaska-destined cruise ships to make a port call in Canada. Upon the President’s signature, one of the last barriers to the resumption of safe 2021 cruise voyages will be paused. Southeast Alaska’s economy has been severely affected by the federal government’s shutdown of the cruise season in 2020. The Dunleavy administration has worked to salvage the 2021 season, which will be a vital component of economic recovery following the pandemic.