Bill from Alaska delegation would allow cruises to bypass Canada ports again

A cruise ship next to a forested hill
Royal Caribbean International’s Ovation of the Seas, a quantum-class cruise ship, in Skagway’s port. (Claire Stremple/KHNS)

Alaska’s congressional delegation wants to extend the waiver of a law that makes Alaska-bound cruise ships stop in Canada. 

Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young have a new bill that would provide a one-year exemption of a requirement in the Passenger Vessel Services Act. That 1886 law says foreign ships can’t transport people between two U.S. ports directly. The cruise ships that sail to Alaska are nearly all foreign-flagged but they make a stop in Canada to get around the law.

Then the pandemic disrupted the arrangement. In 2020, Canada stopped allowing cruise ships to visit their ports. It has since lifted the ban, but the Alaska delegation wants more certainty.

“Alaskans cannot gamble again on the goodwill and commonsense of our Canadian neighbors, who failed us last year,” Sullivan said in a statement announcing the bill.

The new bill extends the expiration date of the previous waiver for 59 cruise ships that are regulars on the Alaska route.

RELATED: Cruise lines are predicting a record year, but Southeast Alaska is proceeding with caution

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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.