Alaskan Dream Cruises has announced that it will sail in Alaska in 2021, following Canada’s extended ban on cruise vessels sailing in Canadian waters effective until Feb. 28, 2022.
The small ship cruise line is U.S.-flagged and U.S.-crewed, and its fleet of small ships can host between 10 and 76 passengers. While it has never been under CDC no sail orders, the cruise line determined not to sail in 2020 due to health and safety reasons during the early stages of the pandemic. Its 10-passenger boat has two planned sailings in April, while its first larger vessel will sail on May 7, with other ships in its fleet following shortly afterward.
“As local Alaskans, involved in several aspects of the tour industry, it’s critical to us that we state our strong support of a temporary waiver to sections of the law that will allow foreign flagged cruise lines to sail to Alaska this summer,” said Zakary Kirkpatrick, corporate director of marketing and PR, Alaskan Dream Cruises, during an online press conference. “It’s impossible to overstate how critical this industry is to the economic health of Alaska. There have been devastating losses in terms of retail sales, revenue and jobs.”
“Due to the seasonality of the Alaska season, which in general runs from May to September, businesses were forced to survive what they had hoped would be 19 months, until the season opened up again in May. But now with this Canadian announcement, business are looking at having to go 31 months. It has been cataclysmic, and like other businesses, we’ve been in contact with the Congressional Delegation, and we’re told they are working feverishly on such waivers. In addition to that, we support our government working with Canada, to find a safe way that these ships can just do technical stops in Canada.”
Alaskan Dream Cruises, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, is owned and operated by the Allen family, who are members of the Alaskan Tlingit tribe with indigenous roots in Southeast Alaska. They have been showcasing the wildlife and sights of the Inside Passage of Alaska for more than 50 years, and founded the cruise line in 2011.
“We’ve been heartened by the vaccine rollouts already underway,” said Kirkpatrick. “The average age of our cruisers is over 60. So many booking expeditions with us expect to have received the vaccination in the coming months, or have already received at least the first dose of vaccination. And we expect this to accelerate as the nationwide rollout ramps up, and more vaccinations are approved for use in the near future. In Alaska, our vaccine rollout has been robust and well organized, and vaccines have been distributed quickly and efficiently in the region. As of February 10th, 24 percent of southeast Alaska residents have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Just shy of a quarter of the population of Southeast Alaska.”
The cruise line’s ships embark and disembark from the company’s own privately owned marine facilities in several Southeast Alaska communities. Its 11 itineraries include visits to regions such as Tracy Arm Fjord, Glacier Bay National Park, exclusive Orca Point & Fin Island Lodges, small fishing communities and Alaska native villages. By virtue of being a small ship cruise line, Alaskan Dream Cruises is inherently flexible, and even under normal circumstances will make adjustments to its itineraries if a spectacular wildlife sighting occurs or as the weather dictates. In 2021, this same flexibility will allow the company to adjust its adventures to avoid certain excursions or communities due to virus safety concerns. As a peace of mind special offer, the cruise line has reduced the required deposit for its sailings, which historically has been around $750 per person, to just $49.
“There is pent-up demand for travel, and there is demand for Alaska cruising,” said Kirkpatrick. “We’re starting the season with many guests on the books from 2020 who chose to postpone their travel until this year. The last weeks have seen an uptick in bookings, and we are expecting that to continue. We know that the traditional wave season in Alaska is usually January to March for bookings, but we’re expecting to see a unique 2021 wave season that perhaps will be more like March through May.”
Health and safety protocols that will be in place when the cruise line resumes sailing will include a pre-expedition guest health questionnaire to attempt to mitigate potential health risks before an expedition sets sail. The company will also adhere carefully to the state’s travel mandates, which currently require interstate travelers to submit a negative test result from a test taken within 72 hours of departure, or having a negative test available to show screeners at the airport. Other protocols will include constant and thorough cleaning and disinfection of common areas, state rooms and touch points, including disinfection of transportation vehicles, as well as increased hand sanitation points, daily temperature checks and staggered dining to ensure social distancing.
For more information, visit alaskandreamcruises.com.