Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the state’s final phase of reopening would begin Friday. But whether Ketchikan is ready to allow tourists on small cruise ships is a question with which the City Council is set to grapple.
And there’s some urgency: American Cruise Lines, a boutique carrier operating small cruise ships, has asked the city to host the 170-passenger American Constellation Ketchikan for port calls on June 22 and 30. Ketchikan city management is asking the City Council how to respond. The council will take up the matter at Thursday’s meeting.
Norwegian and Royal Caribbean both canceled sailings until August 1 this week. But because American Cruise Lines’ Constellation carries fewer than 250 passengers, it’s exempt from the federal “no-sail order” that remains in effect through late July. And because the Constellation is U.S.-flagged, it’s not affected by Canadian port closures.
American Cruise Lines submitted a proposed set of precautions that they say would keep passengers and port communities safe. Cruises would run at 75% capacity, with rooms reserved for crew and passenger isolation. Masks would be required for all passengers disembarking in town. The line says COVID-19 testing would be available onboard.
But City Manager Karl Amylon says in a memo to the council that the measures fall short of draft standards developed by a working group of Southeast ports. Under the draft protocol, passengers would need to be tested daily. And cruise lines would need to fund plans for quarantining exposed passengers and transferring the sick off the ship.
Of course, whether the cruise takes place at all seems to depend on whether the state’s 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers from outside the state remains in place. State officials recently extended the quarantine mandate into early June.
The Ketchikan City Council meets Thursday at 7 p.m. by teleconference. It’ll be streamed live at the city’s website and on local cable channels. Those who’d like to offer live testimony or written comments can contact the clerks’ office at 228-5658 prior to 4 p.m. Thursday. Comments can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.