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Statement of Commissioner Sola: Commending the Bipartisan Efforts to Address Resumption of Cruises to Alaska

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I would like to take this opportunity to thank Chairman Peter DeFazio and Congressman Don Young for their leadership in the effort to convince the Canadian authorities to work with the cruise industry to address Canada’s legitimate health concerns without hindering the resumption of sailings between the ports in Alaska and those along our Pacific coast.  Thanks to these two influential members of Congress from opposite sides of the aisle, several of their fellow house members have joined them in a call to our neighbors to the north expressing the importance of this issue and how serious our leaders take the matter.

As noted in my fact finding into the economic impact of the cessation of cruise activity on the states of Alaska, Washington, and Oregon, small businesses, and organized labor rely heavily upon the revenues generated by visits from large cruise vessels.  Alaska in particular will suffer great economic pain should it experience yet another season without revenues garnered from the thousands of visitors delivered by large cruise vessels. Just as we as a nation begin to see a glimmer of light at the end of the very dark pandemic tunnel thanks to the development and roll out of the new vaccines, our fellow Americans in the Pacific northwest and Alaska are finding a shade drawn over that light by the Canadian Transport Ministry.  Our hope is that, thanks to the efforts of our U.S. Congressional leaders, Democrat and Republican, from many states both directly and indirectly affected, the Canadians will lift the shade and allow the light of hope to shine.

The path forward for resumption of cruises and the associated beneficial economic activity will be built on three pillars:

  1. Shore Side Vaccinations: Terminal and Longshoreman
  2. Ship Side Vaccinations: Crew and Passengers
  3. Destination Vaccinations: It should be noted that Alaska is on track to be the first state in the nation to achieve herd immunity

Vaccinations are the key to the resumption of cruise operations in Alaska and throughout the United States.  The sooner that we are able to vaccinate shoreside workers, vessel crews, passengers, and local populations at ports of call, the sooner America will be able to cruise forward.  I commend the work being done by President Biden and all those involved that allow for the current administration of vaccinations.

Louis E. Sola is a Commissioner with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission. The thoughts and comments expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.