Royal Caribbean cruise ship first to sail from Alaska since COVID


Royal Caribbean International became the first large-ship cruise line to undertake a returnin Alaska on Monday, ending a 21-month tourism project for Southeast Alaska caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Cruise Critic reports.

Cheers rose just after noon from the crowds of impatient passengers gathered at Seattle’s Pier 91 Smith Cove cruise terminal as the doors opened and the first passengers entered.

Cruise Critic sails aboard the Serenade of the Seas for this week’s historic voyage from Seattle, which will see the 2003-built ship become the first full-scale vessel to call at the ports of Sitka, Icy Strait Point, Juneau and Ketchikan since October. 2019.

Serenade of the Seas kicks off the truncated cruise season in Alaska 2021, populated by nine major cruise ships making 78 crossings – some of which extend through October. This week alone, three additional ships will also embark on their first departure from Seattle to Alaska. One of these ships, Princess Cruises’ Majestic Princess, was provisioned in front of the Serenade of the Seas as the first passengers flocked aboard the latter.

North to Alaska

There was a thrill in the air like a maiden voyage, a mixture of nervous energy and raw anticipation, after such a long pause in the crossings to Alaska.

Serenade of the Seas operates with a number of new onboard health and safety protocols – but even those requirements don’t seem to have cooled the mood of those on board.

A technical problem delayed boarding at the terminal, which was slow but well organized. In the age of COVID, it may be better to be thorough than fast, and most passengers have fallen behind in high spirits. Patience has become a necessary element of packaging, alongside passports and vaccination cards.

Greeted by the ship’s enthusiastic crew on the promenade deck, passengers entered the atrium aboard the Serenade of the Seas, awash in balloons and festive decorations. “Welcome Back to Adventure” is the phrase of the day on board.

On board, the public areas are immaculately clean and cool, and the cabins are well-maintained. The line’s new E-Muster system has made the traditional muster (rescue boat) exercise easier.

Shortly after 5 p.m. local time, Serenade of the Seas let its lines slip away and threaded its way through Elliot Bay before speeding up, bound for waters of Puget Sound, the Pacific Ocean and Alaska.

New COVID protocols, old favorite

Serenade of the Seas mainly carries passengers vaccinated during this first navigation, although under 16s are allowed on board without having been vaccinated. The minimum age for vaccination will be increased to 12 years from August 1.

Vaccinated passengers receive a bracelet upon boarding and a health questionnaire must be answered on the Royal Caribbean app the day before boarding. Certain areas of the ship are reserved for vaccinated passengers only, such as the Viking Crown Lounge and the Casino. Other areas have time restrictions for unvaccinated passengers, and the rest of the ship is a free zone for both groups.

To test its protocols, Serenade of the Seas embarked on a mock trip for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on July 7. This navigation – which stopped at Ketchikan, hosted by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski – proved Royal Caribbean’s protocols were effective in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, and the ship received a certificate to begin paid passenger trips.

“This short cruising season makes the difference between reopening or permanently closing so many small local businesses,” said Sarah Leonard, president and CEO of the Alaska Travel Industry Association, July 9. We thank our Congressional delegation, our governor and our lawmakers for their hard work in bringing cruise ships back to the state this year. “

Serenade of the Seas is well known to Alaskans. The 90,090 gross tonnage vessel, with wall-to-wall glass and numerous open and sheltered basins and decks, has navigated these waters for most of her service career.

Although the ship is recognizable in Southeast Alaska, it is a newcomer to Seattle having been based in Vancouver for several seasons. Currently, cruise ships are banned from entering Canada until November.

Serenade of the Seas will arrive in Sitka on Wednesday morning.

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