Port of Seattle delays start of cruise season

A cruise ship is shown traveling through Alaska waters.
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Port of Seattle, an integral part of cruise and tourism operations in Alaska, is expecting a severely delayed start of its annual cruise season, as announced by the port this week.

“The eventual return of our cruise season is something we fully expect as an important contribution to living wage jobs, local small businesses, and our region’s economic recovery," said Port of Seattle Commission President Peter Steinbrueck in a released from the port. "We also recognize the critical role Seattle cruise plays in supporting the Alaska economy for over 20 years.

“We know that social distancing is our only real weapon against the COVID 19 virus," he said. "At a time when (State of Washington) Governor (Jay) Inslee has ordered all Washingtonians to ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy,’ we must consider public health and safety above all else."

The decision comes after concerns about the upcoming season were made public in early March.

Seattle, Washington's largest city, is an important hub not only for cruise travel but local suppliers that provide homeport vessels with goods and supplies. According to the Port of Seattle, each homeport sailing creates approximately $4 million in regional business activity. A full cruise season generates nearly $900 million statewide and supporting 5,500 jobs, it said.

The release also stated that the start of Seattle's cruise season will "will depend on the status of the public health emergency and the advice of local, state and federal public health officials." Along with a temporary no-sail order for cruise ships, the Centers for Disease Control has already advised people stop all non-essential travel, whether by air, cruise, or otherwise.

"In conjunction with public health officials and our cruise line partners, the Port will regularly reevaluate this situation as the nature of this crisis evolves," port officials wrote. "Once the public health emergency ends and it is deemed safe, we believe that the launch of cruise in Seattle will provide critical economic relief to many struggling businesses in our region and beyond."

Travelers should contact their cruise lines for information about their itineraries, cancellations and other adjustments.

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