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Cruise companies postpone Alaska trips amid virus guidelines

Holland America and Princess Cruises announced pauses on planned sailings in Alaskan waters in response to health guidelines established since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Carnival Cruise Line announces plans to suspend all sailings until April 30

A cruise ship in Skagway, Alaska. Carnival Cruise Line, which owns Princess and Holland America, announced Wednesday it was suspending all sailings until April 30. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

Holland America and Princess Cruises announced pauses on planned sailings in Alaskan waters in response to health guidelines established since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The cruise operators said Wednesday that trips scheduled to operate around Alaska have been postponed.

Princess cancelled six Alaska trips scheduled through May 14.

Holland America cancelled sailings on three Alaska-bound ships through the first week of June and on three others through mid-May.

Carnival Cruise Line, which owns Princess and Holland America, announced Wednesday it was suspending all sailings until April 30.

Princess and Holland America said in statements that health rules imposed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and "uncertainty around travel restrictions" prompted the cancellations.

The CDC issued a no-sail order last year at the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and lifted the order in October, issuing a conditional sailing order. The agency issued guidelines for companies that include a phased return of passengers.

Federal law requirements

Competing cruise lines have also pulled back. Celebrity Cruise Lines was expected to announce similar postponements, while Norwegian Cruise Line's website said Thursday that the company suspended all sailings through March 2021.

Large ships bound for Alaska also must contend with Canadian restrictions when they are registered outside the United States.

Federal law requires foreign-flagged ships sailing between two U.S. ports to stop at a foreign port.

For Alaska cruises, a Canadian stop satisfies the requirement, but regulating agency Transport Canada has banned all cruise ship traffic through March. A decision is expected soon on whether the ban will be extended.

Mike Tibbles of Cruise Lines International Association Alaska, an industry group that works with multiple cruise ship companies, declined to comment on the 2021 season.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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