If you’re like us, you’ve had quite a few cruises cancelled in the past year or so. A cruise to Canada… cancelled. A bucket list cruise to Alaska with a land portion to Denali… cancelled. A cruise to the British Isles… cancelled.

We have rescheduled our British Isles cruise for 2022 and had hoped to reschedule our Alaska cruise for our 20th wedding anniversary in 2021. However, with Canada’s cruise ban and the CDC’s No Sail Order still in place, that dream was not to be. This got me thinking… how can I support the travel industry in Alaska in 2021 without being able to cruise there? With Alaska about to begin its second season with no cruise traffic, I wanted to put together a list of ways we can try to help support an industry that we all want to see survive until we can cruise again.

What’s the latest on all the obstacles the Alaska cruise season is facing?

As of this writing, the CDC’s no sail order is still in place and applies to all cruises sailing out of US ports. The CDC’s guidance on cruising remains at Level 4 (Very High). Recently, the state of Florida sued the CDC in an attempt to get this order lifted with Alaska also considering joining the lawsuit. The CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order which requires cruise ship operators to coordinate with public health officials, submit detailed restart plans, and operate test voyages is being worked through by the cruise lines while negotiations with the CDC are currently ongoing. With the ’12-hour rule’ recently omitted from the Conditional Sailing Order, the hope is that cruises can begin from US ports in the late summer of 2021. {insert pessimistic eye roll here}

Great… for other US ports. Alaska is still facing a couple of hurdles here. The first problem is the Passenger Vessel Services Act which requires large Alaska-bound cruise ships to stop in Canada. However, Canada has banned those ships through February 2022 which means they cannot come to Alaska. Cruise ships that carry fewer than 100 passengers and ships built in the United States aren’t subject to the ban, but these types of ships only account for a tiny fraction of Alaska’s annual cruise traffic. The second is, with the border to Canada currently closed and their ports closed, cruises reaching further up the Alaska coast which normally sail out of Vancouver will be unable to sail this year.

How can I support Alaska tourism this year?

Go to Alaska! As of March 21, 2021, non-resident travelers to Alaska are no longer required to provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test result in order to gain entry, but are strongly encouraged to do so. Tests are available at the airport upon arrival in Alaska, however, they were previously $250 for non-Alaska residents (not sure if this is the current cost). So, it’s suggested that you get the test beforehand. An additional test, to be taken between five and 14 days after arrival in Alaska, is also strongly recommended, but not required. All interstate travelers must still submit a Travel Declaration Form and a Self-Isolation Plan through the Alaska Travel Portal. This situation is ever changing, so please check the current regulations for travel to Alaska through the state’s COVID-19 traveler information website.

Recently announced, any tourist traveling to Alaska will be able to receive a vaccine at the airport. Starting June 1st, the airports offering this service will be the Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau or Ketchikan airports.

Local, borough, or state restrictions vary, so be sure to check the health and safety guidelines required by the area of the state that you plan to visit.

The beauty of Alaska is it’s perfect for social distancing. Wide open spaces, beautiful scenery… what’s not to love. That, coupled with no cruise crowds this year might make 2021 the best year to head to Alaska!

Additionally, two cruise lines – Princess and Holland America – have committed to keeping their lodges fully operational this summer.

This summer, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises offer many ways for travelers to experience Alaska through Gray Line Alaska, Princess Alaska Lodges and Holland America Line’s Westmark Hotels, giving travelers a combination of tours, lodging and sightseeing options on land.

Holland America Blog

Denali National Park

Want to visit Denali National Park? First off, I don’t blame you. I’m trying to get there myself! The best way to visit Denali is on a Denali Park Bus Tour. One change for 2021 is that most buses will travel no farther than Eielson Visitor Center (Mile 66). For more information on Denali bus tours and to buy tickets online, click here for information on the NPS website. Alternatively, you can purchase a permit to drive a personal vehicle to Teklanika River, Mile 30 of the Park Road, from June 1-30. Reservations will open at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 29 at Recreation.gov.

If you feel comfortable traveling this summer (especially if you’ve already been vaccinated), I highly recommend looking into a trip to Alaska. With Frontier announcing new flights from Charlotte to Anchorage this past week, I might be taking my own advice!

Can I still cruise to Alaska this year?

Yes and no. Some smaller cruise lines may be able to operate in Alaska later this year, assuming the no sail order is lifted and some, if they are small enough and the CDC order doesn’t apply to them, may already be able to sail this summer. However, these cruises may be cost prohibitive for many. Below is a list of the cruise operators that might be headed to Alaska this season:

How can I support small, local Alaska businesses?

Below is a list of a tiny fraction of the small businesses in Alaska – that many cruisers know and love – that have an online shopping option or will ship items. If nothing else, buy a gift card to use when we all do finally return on that Alaskan cruise!

If you know of any business you want to see featured here, please let me know!

Follow the hashtag #shop49th on social media or visit https://www.shop49th.com/ to see more Alaskan small businesses featured!

Finally, plan an Alaskan cruise (and start planning those excursions) for 2022…

Eventually, all this will be over and we will be cruising again. I, for one, have already booked my Alaskan cruise for 2022 (which will be our third trip there) and according to my Princess cruise planner, a lot of other travelers have as well. We’re planning a pre-cruise trip to Denali and maybe Fairbanks on our own. So, any suggestions for transportation and must see places will be greatly appreciated!

If you are planning an Alaskan adventure, check out my Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam playlist or my Pack with Me: Alaskan Cruise Edition video over on YouTube!