Norwegian Cruise Line Cancels the Last Alaska Cruise of the Year

norwegian cruise lines ship
Norwegian Joy (file image courtesy NCL)

Published Jul 7, 2020 9:06 PM by The Maritime Executive

Norwegian Cruise Line has formally canceled the last remaining sailings of Alaska's 2020 big-ship cruise season. 

Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Joy had been scheduled for Alaskan itineraries in early October, but with Canada's cruise ship ban in effect through the end of the season, these voyages have become legally impractical. Passengers whose bookings are affected by the cancellation are eligible for a future cruise credit valued at 125 percent of the original fare or a full refund. 

In May, Canadian Minister of Transport Marc Garneau announced that Canada would be extending its ban on large cruise ships due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Cruise ships with berthing for more than 100 people are prohibited from calling in Canadian ports until October 31, and this creates a regulatory barrier for itineraries between Alaska and Seattle, the main home port for the region's cruise market. All large cruise ships on the Washington-to-Alaska route are foreign-flagged, and they must stop in a foreign port - typically Victoria, B.C. - during their voyage in order to comply with the U.S. Passenger Vessel Services Act. Without a Canadian port call, they cannot operate standard Alaska itineraries.

NCL's final cancellations mark the formal end of Alaska's 2020 cruise season. The first trips of the season were canceled just as the outbreak took hold on the U.S. West Coast, and in late March, the Port of Seattle announced that it was suspending its Alaska cruise operations until further notice. By the end of April, industry association CLIA Alaska forecast that the region's cruise season would shrink by 70 percent due to COVID-19. 

According to the organization, cruise lines normally generate about $4.5 billion in economic impact in Alaska each season, including $1.5 billion in labor income. The impact includes more than $2 billion in visitor spending generated by more than two million passenger arrivals per year.