Carnival Cruise Lines has cancelled sailings to Alaska for its brand of ships. Monday’s announcement (5-4-20) does not include its sister brands, including Holland America and Princess Cruises
Sitka will not suffer a major loss from the decision. The 2,100-passenger Carnival Spirit was scheduled to call here only once, on a repositioning cruise in September. A second Carnival ship, the Miracle, was also scheduled to call here in September, but that trip was cancelled last month as the company adjusted to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
The absence of Carnival will take a higher toll on communities like Ketchikan, where the Spirit was scheduled to make 22 visits.
In addition to its Alaska itineraries, Carnival cancelled all its North American sailings through July. However, sailings from ports in Florida and Texas are scheduled to resume August 1.
Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen says the Spirit was the only ship the line planned to regularly sail to Alaska this year. The company’s two other brands, Holland America and Princess, each have 24 port calls scheduled for 2020 starting in early July.
The Eurodam is scheduled to call in Sitka 12 times, on Wednesdays from July 8 to September 23. The Eurodam departs from Seattle, whose port is currently closed to ships of that size. The Centers for Disease Control’s 100-day “no-sail” order remains in effect through July 24 — although federal officials could rescind it sooner.
Laurie Booyse, the director of Visit Sitka, says her organization remains optimistic. She thinks that Carnival will keep its Holland America and Princess brands sailing, “in order to have some Alaska product available for people who want to travel later this summer.” She says that — provided the pandemic is under control — visitors who choose to come to Alaska “may find this the perfect summer to travel, because there will be significantly less visitors.”
In an email, Cruise Lines International Association Alaska’s Mike Tibbles wrote that 419 summer 2020 sailings have been canceled so far. That’s 70 percent of this summer’s scheduled cruises — a loss of 825,200 passengers, from last year’s record summer of 1.4 million.
Barring any further cancellations, Sitka could see 60,488 cruise visitors beginning in July.