The Latest CDC Guidance Still Doesn’t Mean You’ll Be Cruising to Alaska Onboard the Mainstream Cruise Lines This Year

Melinda Crow

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The Constellation cruising in Alaska.Photo courtesy of American Cruise Lines

JUNEAU, ALASKA-- If you were hoping that the CDC's announcement that cruising could resume this summer meant you could start thinking about your Alaskan cruise, we hate to disappoint. The CDC's new guidance announced this applies to cruises to almost everywhere from U.S. ports except Alaskan cruises.

The reason is that Canada still has a ban on cruise ships entering their ports until February of 2022. And the only reason that matters is an outdated law prohibiting ships from transporting passengers from one U.S. port to another without stopping in at least one foreign port.

The law is the passenger vessel safety act or PVSA. And while Alaskan senators sought a temporary fix to the PV essay in March, no short-term fix has yet been agreed upon.

Small ship cruises are the only way to cruise Alaska in 2021

Smaller charter-style vessels fall beneath the restrictions of the PVSA so those are an option. But probably the best option right now for cruising Alaska in 2021 would be a company called American Cruise Lines (ACL). The line offers both U.S. river cruise and coastal water ships, with some Alaskan cruises scheduled for this year. The line is owned and operated by an American company which exempts it from the restrictions of the PVSA.

The other key factor in the equation is that the CDC mandate that halted cruising in the first place only applies to passenger vessels capable of carrying 250 or more passengers. For the 2021 Alaskan cruise season, ACL will be sailing the American Constellation in Alaskan waters. The maximum capacity of the ship is 175 passengers exempting it from the CDC's halt on cruising.

American Cruise Lines

Options are available for 7, 10, and 14-night cruises. The 7 and 10-night cruises are round trip from Juneau. The 14-night sailings are between Seattle and Juneau. Prices for the 7-night sailings begin at $5,845 per person for a 305-square-foot stateroom with a window. Balcony cabins start at $6,940 per person.

ACL’s unique Single cabins offer an alternative for solo travelers. These slightly smaller staterooms (226 square feet) feature one twin bed and are priced at $7,255, which is a considerable saving over the $11,696 many cruise lines would charge for a solo cruiser.

ACL cruises include Wi-Fi onboard, a free cocktail hour each evening, and onboard naturalists.

You need to book 2022 and even 2023 Alaskan cruises now

Pent-up demand for Alaskan cruises is hitting a peak. Consider this: We now have essentially two years’ worth of cruisers who booked Alaskan cruises and were canceled. Many of the 2020 passengers were automatically re-booked to 2021 cruises by the cruise lines. Now those cruises are canceled, and some are already re-booked to 2022. Plus, there are millions of dollars of unused cruise credits floating around out there from the 14-month hiatus from cruising.

And guess what? A whole lot of folks got bonus credits on their cancellations. What that means is that some of the people who booked for non-Alaskan cruises can now easily afford the pricey balcony cabins they’ve always dreamed about on an Alaskan cruise. And since their credits may be good through the 2022 season, it becomes a no-brainer. They are hopping on board and driving up the prices more than a year in advance.

Here’s what we found:
Inside staterooms (the least desirable for most folks on such a scenic cruise) for a 7-night cruise on the mainstream cruise lines Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival, Norwegian, and Celebrity are pushing well over the $1,000 per person mark. Even discounter Vacations-to-go is showing rates in the $800-900 for insides.

Here are other News Break stories you might enjoy:

Carnival Not Likely to Require Vaccination for Cruises from Galveston

The Viking River Cruise You've Always Dreamed of is Coming to America

Cruises from Long Beach You Can Still Book for 2021

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