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Cases of COVID-19 Reported Aboard Alaska Cruise Ships

COVID-19 cases on Alaska bound cruise ships
Celebrity Millennium became the second large cruise ship to depart Seattle for Alaska (Celebrity Cruises)

Published Jul 27, 2021 6:05 PM by The Maritime Executive

Cruise ships are reporting their first cases of COVID-19 in Alaska shortly after the large ships resumed sailing to the state. Officials are saying while they never expected the cruise season to be COVID-free they are pleased that the protocols seem to be working limiting the scope of the outbreak and potential exposure to the residents of the state.

Shortly after departing on its first cruise of the Alaska season, the Celebrity Cruises ship the Celebrity Millennium reported a positive test for COVID-19 among one of the passengers aboard the ship. The cruise ship had departed Seattle on July 23 and according to the cruise line, all passengers and crew are vaccinated for the virus. Alaska’s public media outlet KTOO reports that a passenger began to experience flu-like symptoms and was isolated and tested aboard the cruise ship.

The captain of the Celebrity Millennium reportedly informed passengers over the weekend of the positive test aboard the ship, but no other cases of the virus have been identified. The cruise has continued with the passenger being disembarked and under the agreed protocols was transported by the cruise line aboard an air ambulance from Juneau. 

Deputy city manager Robert Barr told KTOO that they did not believe the passenger had been in contact with residents in Juneau. “I think that we were never expecting the cruise season to be entirely COVID free,” Barr told the public media outlet. He however highlighted the protocols and safeguards while also noting that 80 percent of the eligible population of Juneau has had at least one dose of a vaccine. 

After implementing its safety protocols, the Celebrity Millennium has continued on its cruise. Passengers on board remain upbeat according to social media. Today, the cruise ship made its first call in Skagway, Alaska, a historic town linked to mining and the Alaskan gold rush. Passengers enjoyed tours while city officials celebrated the visit with a plaque presentation.

At the end of last week, small ship operator UnCruise Adventures also reported that it would be canceling this week’s upcoming cruise on its ship the Wilderness Explorer, which normally accommodates 74 passengers, out of caution. During last week’s cruise, the company reported that a total of seven people, including four passengers and three crew members tested positive for COVID-19. The passengers were being quarantined in a hotel in Juneau, while the crew members were isolated aboard the ship.

"It’s not unforeseen that the new variant would affect our fully vaccinated cruises and it’s more important now than ever that we encourage people everywhere to get fully vaccinated and mask up. We’ve taken immediate action to safeguard those onboard to mitigate transmission, along with the decision to cancel this weekend’s departure,” said Captain Dan Blanchard, the owner and CEO of UnCruise Adventures.

Alaskan officials said they would continue to monitor but they did not anticipate any changes to the plans for the 2021 cruise season.