Alaska Tourism Restoration Act Opens Alaska to More Cruisers
Pack your bags and book your passage on an Alaska cruise. Large and wild Alaska is on the bucket list of many a cruiser seeking the ultimate in scenery and wildlife. But past transgressions put some potential cruisers on Canada’s inadmissibility list. You know who you are! The signing of the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act temporarily lifts the requirement to visit Canada and that means passengers need not ever leave the US and therefore need not be cleared by Canadian Immigration authorities. Now that the Canadian border remains closed due to COVID, none of the Canadian ports will allow large cruise ships to call, hence the need for the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act.
|Most larger cruise lines operate foreign-flagged ships. In the case of Alaska cruising, the easiest foreign port on weeklong cruises included ports in British Columbia. Typically ships called at Victoria, Vancouver or Prince Rupert on round trip itineraries or commenced or terminated in Vancouver on one-way itineraries. These port calls were required for ships to comply with the Passenger Vessel Services Act.|
When port calls to Canada were required, some guests hoping to cruise to Alaska were in for a nasty surprise when they realized that they would not be able to cruise because they would be found inadmissible by border agents. A previous DUI or other offense on their records would show up when border agents checked their credentials. This official site goes into detail about inadmissibility, but even though an offender has served time and paid fines, Canada looks at these offenses differently than the US does. Several cruisers have been caught off guard because Canada includes driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the inadmissible category. And even if that DUI occurred many years ago, it could still be a valid reason for inadmissibility.
What’s the Good News?
With no requirement to stop in Canada, cruise passengers won’t be subject to Canadian immigration. With Canada having such a low percentage of their population vaccinated, it’s unlikely that the Canadian ports will open any time soon. The Alaska Tourism Restoration Act expires whenever Canada re-opens its ports or on March 22, 2022, whichever comes first. Keep in mind that the Alaska cruising season usually ends in October, so the March 22, 2022 date really doesn’t mean that there is that much time to cruise Alaska.
The Time is Now
Get in touch with a knowledgeable travel agent who can guide you through the process of choosing a cruise. The cruise lines are temporarily offering flexible policies for changing or cancelling a cruise. Those policies may include full refunds or future cruise credits. Be sure to carefully read the terms and conditions of the cancellation policies. Do keep in mind that there are smaller ships that are flagged in the US or carry fewer than 100 passengers. The former cruise in Alaska without hindrance; the latter are allowed to sail Canadian waters due to the small number of passengers.
If Alaska calls you to the wild, don’t miss this rare window of opportunity that could close as quickly as it opened.