Ketchikan’s City Council approved signing a draft Memorandum of Agreement between Southeast Alaska port communities and the Carnival Corporation that sets protocols needed to resume cruise ship visits to the state.
Other cruise destinations listed in the agreement include Juneau, Sitka, Skagway and Hoonah. Several independent ports are also co-signers, along with the State Department of Health and Social Services.
The MOA addresses conditions laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allowing cruise ship operations to resume.
Ketchikan’s acting Port and Harbors Director Mark Hilson says adoption of the agreement is a key component in resuming cruising, not only in Ketchikan, but in all of Alaska. Among the provisions are a requirement that 95 percent of passengers and crew be vaccinated, rules on reporting and actions needed should passengers test positive for COVID-19 and that cruise lines have CDC approval for restricted passenger voyages. Hilson says under the agreement, passengers will have free range in communities they visit.
“There’s been a lot of talk leading up to this, especially in what seems like the distant past, of ‘bubbles.’ There are no bubbles included in this.”
Last fall, anticipating a cruise season to start in April 2020 and before vaccines were available, cruise lines had proposed restricting passengers to cruise-line sponsored excursions. But that idea never found traction.
Carnival Corporation also owns Princess Cruises and Holland America Line and others. Hilson says three large cruise ships scheduled to stop in Ketchikan later this summer are covered under the MOA – the Carnival Miracle, the Nieuw Amsterdam and the Majestic Princess.
The council unanimously approved signing the MOA. It will now be transmitted to the CDC by Carnival. Hilson says draft proposals from Celebrity Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines were received and will be brought to the council at its next regular meeting on June 15.