This story originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.
Princess Cruises has effectively canceled their 2020 summer season in Alaska, the cruise company’s president, Jan Swartz, announced Tuesday in a video message on the Princess Cruises website.
In her video message, Swartz said Alaska’s shortened summer season made operating their cruises, buses, five wilderness lodges and trains “simply not viable.” The cruise company employs approximately 3,500 people, many of them coming from all over the world to work in Alaska for the tourist season, Swartz said.
On the Kenai Peninsula, the Kenai Princess Lodge in Cooper Landing is one of the five lodges that will be closed this summer, resulting in a number of canceled bookings with local excursion companies that take Princess guests on kayak tours, Kenai River rafting tours and sled dog tours, according to the lodge’s activity information on the company’s website.
“We know these decisions will have a large adverse economic impact on the state of Alaska,” Swartz said.
The company sends many of their cruise ships through Alaska’s Inside Passage, stopping along at a number of Southeast communities. The company’s Sun Princess and Golden Princess ships were scheduled to dock in Seward May 17 and Sept. 1. Sun Princess was also set to dock in Homer, May 15.
The closure will halt all Grand, Pacific and Royal Princess cruises. Round-trip cruises to Alaska departing from San Francisco and Los Angeles on the Star Princess and Golden Princess will also not sail this summer.
The company is remaining optimistic that Emerald and Ruby Princess cruises will still be able to offer round-trip cruises from Seattle in the late summer, Swartz said.
“We will, of course, continue to evaluate our plans in the weeks ahead,” she said.
On the Princess Cruise website, a round-trip seven-day cruise setting sail in July from Seattle through Alaska’s Inside Passage on the Emerald Princess ship was on sale for 40% off.
Other cruise companies are making similar changes to their 2020 Alaska season. Windstar Cruises has halted their Star Breeze ship from sailing in Alaska in 2020. The Star Breeze was scheduled to visit Seward twice this summer.
Holland America has a travel advisory posted on their website, which says that the start of the Alaska, Europe, Canada and New England cruise seasons are delayed through June 30. The company said all 2020 Alaska cruises on their Maasdam, Volendam, Oosterdam, Noordam and Westerdam ships are canceled.
The Maasam ship was scheduled to dock in Homer 10 times, every other Tuesday from May 12 until Sept. 15. The Noordam and Westerdam were set to dock in Seward on alternate Sundays every week from May 17, until Sept. 13.
Royal Caribbean Cruises departs for Alaska from Vancouver, but itineraries to Alaska will be postponed until Canada reopens its ports to cruise ships.
The port is currently scheduled to reopen July 1, according to the company’s website. Regent Seven Seas Cruises said in a travel advisory on their website that the company is planning to “commence operations beginning May 15.”
Viking Cruises announced they will suspend operations through June 30, an advisory on their site said.
Celebrity Cruises will postpone their Alaska sailings until July 1, according to an announcement on their website. Norwegian Cruise Line will relaunch operations May 15, their website said.
For travelers who have already paid for cruises to Alaska, Princess Cruises and Holland America Cruises are offering guests a choice between a full refund or a credit to use on a future cruise.