Richard Fain

Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, discusses some of the contrasts between older ship building technology and newer ship technology in 2017 in Miami. 

Alaska’s summer cruise ship season may set sail after all.

Richard D. Fain, who heads Royal Caribbean Group, said that the U.S. cruise industry is on a course to resume sailing “in time for an Alaskan season,” after receiving updated guidance from the CDC.

Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, said that the CDC notified cruise officials Wednesday that it had “addressed uncertainties and concerns we had raised.”

“They have dealt with many of these items in a constructive manner that takes into account recent advances in vaccines and medical science,” he said. 

“Although this is only part of a very complex process, it encourages us that we now see a pathway to a healthy and achievable return to service, hopefully in time for an Alaskan season.”

In a letter from the CDC to cruise line officials, obtained by USA Today, the public health agency indicated it would modify guidance for large commercial cruise ships to resume voyages.

• That guidance would require that 98% of the crew and 95% of passengers be fully vaccinated against Covd-19.

• The guidance paused some of the pre-conditions for simulated voyages prior to a return to service.

• The cruise lines would need to have plans in place with port communities for providing emergency care if passengers become ill with the virus during travel.

The CDC letter was published Thursday, as the Biden Administration and the public health agency come under pressure by the U.S. cruise industry and states that rely on summer cruise tourism, including Alaska.

Cruise ship sailings could resume as early as mid-July, cruise industry officials said.

According to Cruise Industry News, the CDC stated that it is “committed to the resumption of passenger operations in the United States following the requirements in the conditional sail order by mid-summer.”

Alaska and Florida have filed lawsuits against the CDC and federal officials over the shutdown of voyages by the large commercial vessels since 2020, when the pandemic was declared a national emergency.

Cruise line officials said recently that restrictions would need to ease soon, if the summer cruise season is to be salvaged, to allow for bookings and ship preparation for voyages.

Contact political reporter Linda F. Hersey at 459-7575 or follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.