Royal Caribbean’s Fain Somewhat Confident on 2021 Alaska Season

Could there be a big-ship Alaska cruise season in 2021?

Royal Caribbean Group’s CEO and Chairman Richard Fain is now more bullish on the prospect of cruising in the 49th state this summer

Noting the recent encouraging process on working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on modifying or lifting the Conditional Sail Order, Fain commented: “Although this is only part of a very complex process, it encourages us that we now see a pathway to a healthy and achievable return to service, hopefully in time for an Alaskan season.”

The comments came from Royal Caribbean’s first quarter earnings press release.

While a green light from the CDC would be a huge step forward, it is only one step in a logistically and politically complicated path to return to operations in Alaska, where Royal Caribbean would need to rely on calling in a Canadian port to meet U.S. regulations.

One workaround could be the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act, introduced in March by Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan. The Act is an effort to alleviate the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) restrictions for cruise ships transporting passengers between the State of Washington and the State of Alaska. There is currently no vote scheduled on the Act.

On the company’s first quarter earnings call, Fain elaborated and said the company would need a waiver for the PVSA or to have Canada allow technical calls where no crew or passengers would disembark. 

“We are working on both,” Fain said. “But, we can’t be certain where that (will end up). But given the momentum there is some reason for hope.”

Fain noted it was a confusing and complex situation he would not put odds on.

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