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Yes, you CAN cruise in Alaska in 2021!




You may have heard the the 2021 Alaska Cruising season has been “cancelled”. Let’s clear the air because there are a lot of rumors flying around right now. Read the entire article to find out how you CAN cruise in Alaska this summer!

There are 3 things you need to understand about the situation:

First, you need to understand that large cruise companies rarely register, or “flag”, their ships in the US. Why? By flagging their ships in foreign countries, they avoid paying US taxes, hiring US workers and paying US wages.

I know what you're thinking... "That sounds terrible! Why would we ever support companies that avoid registering their ships in the USA?"



Well, the reality is that foreign-flagged ships are what makes cruising affordable for the masses. If these giant cruise ships were registered in the US, the base price of a cruise would be significantly higher…like thousands of dollars higher.

The second thing you need to know about is the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886 (aka The Jones Act). This act prohibits foreign-flagged cruise ships from operating itineraries that begin and end in the US without stopping at a foreign port.



This is why nearly every Alaskan cruise that begins and ends in the US stops in Canada along the way. A quick stop in Vancouver is the loophole that allows foreign-flagged ships to offer affordable Alaska itineraries that appeal to the American masses.

The third and most critical component of this situation is that Canada recently extended its ban on cruise ships until at least the beginning of 2022. The extension of Canada’s ‘no-sail” order means that foreign-flagged ships on their way to Alaska cannot stop in Vancouver this summer.


This is bad news for Alaska tourism, and bad news for the big cruise lines who register their ships outside of the US.

So, there is a good chance that the major cruise lines will have to cancel their Alaska sailings in 2021. The only ways to save the Alaska season is for (A) Canada to lift their “no-sail” order (unlikely) or for (B) Congress to amend the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886. We all know how fast Congress moves, so you can draw you own conclusions here.

But wait…there is an alternative!


If you want to sail on a smaller ship and are willing to fly into Alaska to start your journey on a US-flagged vessel, you will practically have The Last Frontier all to yourself this summer! There are a handful of small, American-owned companies with US-flagged ships operating cruises in Alaska this year. Yes, they are more expensive. Are they worth it? Absolutely!

These companies are small, nimble, and as American as apple pie. The ships are small - often operating with less than 100 passengers - so they can navigate to places the big ships could never dream of. On the big ships, you’d need to bring your binoculars to see the glaciers calving and whales breaching. On a small ship, you’ll feel the waves generated from the icefalls and possibly even get splashed by a whale tail! It’s a completely different experience, and we can get you there.

To explore options for small-ship cruising in Alaska this summer, email pam@wanderbeyondtravel.com or call us at 737-346-6033.


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