Alaska’s port cities set to welcome big cruise ships again

Norwegian Bliss is preparing to depart Juneau on June 5, 2018 (Photo by Adelyn Baxter / KTOO)

In a step towards a limited cruise season at the end of the summer, Norwegian Cruise Line has signed an agreement with the State of Alaska and several of Alaska’s port operators.

Governor Mike Dunleavy’s office on Thursday announced the agreement, which sets out a set of protocols that will guide the resumption of Norwegian cruises to Alaska. All cruise lines that wish to operate in the United States this year must enter into such agreements with American ports in order to navigate with the blessing of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Honestly, I was skeptical that this would happen, but I’m just excited that it actually happens, and we’re going to have cruise ships returning to Alaska this summer,” said John Binkley, president of Ward. . Cove Dock Group, which has a new private cruise ship dock just north of Ketchikan.

The first Norwegian ship would set sail for Alaska in early August. Week-long trips would run through the end of October and visit Ketchikan, Juneau, Glacier Bay National Park and Hoonah’s Icy Strait Point. Trips through the end of August would also include stops in Skagway.

The agreement stipulates that a Norwegian ship would pass through Southeast Alaska once a week. On Monday, the company said the 4,000-passenger Bliss would be on the route, but is listing four potential ships for its routes in Alaska, giving it some flexibility.

“We thank the State of Alaska for facilitating the development of this agreement, the first agreement to be submitted to the CDC for approval for Alaska,” said the president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Frank Del Rio, in a statement provided by the governor’s office. .

The multiport agreement aims to meet a requirement of the CDC. It lays out safety procedures to prevent COVID-19 from getting on board and outlines the Norwegian’s plan to respond to cases while traveling.

Notably, the company said it plans to sail only with fully vaccinated guests and crew and allow cruise tourists to explore port cities independently in accordance with updated CDC rules. If cases of COVID-19 occur on board, those infected and exposed will be quarantined in specially designated cabins. The agreement says they will rely on the medical facilities on board the ship to treat cases and “remove affected people from the area in accordance with applicable transport, medical care and accommodation requirements.”

The agreement also outlines procedures for port operators, including the requirement that 95% of port staff be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The CDC must approve the plan before the ships can set sail.

“Norwegian will submit the deal to the CDC this week, and the CDC has committed to a five-day deadline,” governor’s office spokeswoman Lauren Giliam said Thursday. Norwegian did not respond to requests for clarification of the deal.

On Thursday, the private dock owners of Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau and Hoonah signed on, as did the Alaska State Department of Health and the Hoonah City Government.

The president and CEO of Huna Totem Corporation, owner of the Icy Strait Point cruise port in Hoonah, said the deal is a model for other ports in the Southeast.

“Together with the Governor’s team, the City of Hoonah, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and the other ports, we have created a model to follow for safe operations, allowing Alaska to resume operations,” said Russell. Dick from Huna Totem in the governor’s office press release.

Local officials in other ports in the southeast say there are still details to be worked out. Ketchikan Port Manager Mark Hilson said city officials have yet to sign the deal.

“For every port community that has not signed on, there is probably some adaptation to be done and work to be done to bring it to a point where municipal entities are comfortable adopting it,” said Hilson. “But it’s progress, and it’s greatly appreciated.

The final deal will need to be approved by Ketchikan City Council. Hilson says it’s not clear whether Norwegian plans to visit the city-owned port of Ketchikan – the cruise line has a preferential mooring arrangement with the Ward Cove wharf north of the city limits – but he says the deal serves as a model for other Alaska cruise lines.

Juneau city manager Rorie Watt says he’s waiting for an updated cruise ship schedule from Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska – the company that schedules cruise ship stopovers – before signing up.

Skagway Mayor Andrew Cremata said his local assembly has yet to give the green light to the deal; he says his community was just added to the document on Wednesday. He said Skagway had “a few issues that we want to resolve”, but he didn’t think they would be a problem “once the adjustments are made”.

Cremata said earlier this year that he was concerned Skagway might not be able to meet a CDC requirement for onshore hospital space for COVID-19 patients. The cruise line executive avoids this problem – if a passenger needs to be disembarked for COVID-19 treatment, they will be sent to a Seattle hospital. But Norwegian also says its vaccination requirements make outbreaks unlikely.

The deal does not specify whether Norwegian would bypass or restrict visitors to port communities with a major COVID-19 outbreak. This has been a concern in Ketchikan, which has seen a record spread of the disease in recent weeks. Ketchikan has already missed two small cruise ship calls due to the outbreak.

Ketchikan Port Manager Hilson said he expects other lines that visit Alaska – like Princess, Holland America and Royal Caribbean – to submit their own proposals for security protocols soon.

“We expect to hear from them shortly,” he said.

Holland America and Princess have announced their intention to restart Alaska cruises at the end of July.

This story was produced as part of a collaboration between KRBD and Alaska Energy Desk.


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Five Welsh seaside resorts ranked among UK’s best by Which?

Consumer magazine Which one? placed five of Wales’ seaside resorts in the UK’s top 20.

Each resort has been rated for quality of the beach, local attractions, scenery, peace and quiet, and value for money and the survey has been compiled with contributions from over 4,000 visitors over the past year. year.

Topping the rankings was Bamburgh in Northumberland, which was praised for its “epic” scenery with Bamburgh Castle towering above the golden sands. But the first Welsh destination, ranked fourth, was Aberaeron who scored 82% looking at the scenery and the peace and quiet on offer.

Just down the list at number 8 is St Davids, which has performed well in terms of attractions, value for money and scenery as well. Last week it was voted as one of the top tourist spots that tourists want to visit.

Surprisingly, the two best beach towns, according to Which? do not have their own beaches although there are many nearby on the north Pembrokeshire coast.

At number nine there are three Welsh seaside towns; Conwy, Criccieth and Tenby. All three got five out of five full marks for landscapes and Tenby also got full marks for his beaches.



Tenby is also on the list

Rory Boland, editor-in-chief of Which? Travel, said: “Our survey results show that the bigger the better, with smaller, less crowded resorts taking the top spots compared to more well-known destinations.”

Below are the top 20 cities in the UK and the worst. There is only one Welsh country on the lowest score list and that is Colwyn Bay.

It’s no surprise that the Welsh coast has some of the best places to stay and, if you’ve vacationed here, you’ll recognize some of them.

The UK’s best seaside resorts according to Which?

1. Bamburgh, Northumberland – 85 points

= 2. Dartmouth, Devon – 84

= 2. Tynemouth, Northumberland -84

3. St Andrews, Fife, Scotland – 83

4. Aberaeron, Ceredigion, Wales – 82

5. North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland – 81

6. Rye, East Sussex – 81

7. Filey, North Yorkshire – 80

= 8. Southwold, Suffolk – 80

= 8. St Davids, Pembrokeshire, Wales – 80

= 8. Swanage, Dorset – 80

= 9. Beer, Devon – 79

= 9. Conwy, Conwy – 79

= 9. Criccieth, Gwynedd – 79

= 9. Sidmouth, Devon – 79

= 9. Tenby, Pembrokeshire – 79

= 10. Aldeburgh, Suffolk -78

= 10. Megavissey, Cornwall – 78

= 10. Saltburn-by-the-sea, North Yorkshire – 78

= 10. Ventnor, Isle of Wight – 78


The worst seaside resorts

1. Skegness, Lincolnshire – 48 points

2. Weston-super-Mare, Somerset – 55

3. Ilfracombe, Devon – 56

4. Margate, Kent – 57

5. Lowestoft, Suffolk – 57

= 6. Worthing, West Sussex – 58

= 6. Morecombe, Lancashire – 58

= 6. Great Yarmouth, Norfolk – 58

= 6. Colwyn Bay – 58

= 6. Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset – 58

= 7. Fleetwood, Lancashire – 59

= 7. Blackpool, Lancashire – 59

= 8. Southport, Merseyside – 60

= 8. Newquay, Cornwall – 60

= 8. New Brighton, Merseyside – 60

9. Bridlington, East Yorkshire – 61

10. Littlehampton, West Sussex – 62


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Cruise Line Provides $ 10 Million in Humanitarian Aid to Alaskan Port Cities


A row of stalls used by waterfront vendors during the summer tourist season are empty on March 21, 2020, in Juneau. They are also expected to remain empty for the summer of 2021. (Rashah McChesney / KTOO)

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings on Tuesday announced a donation of $ 10 million to six Alaska port cities: Ketchikan, Juneau, Hoonah, Sitka, Skagway and Seward.

In a written announcement, the company said it was making the donation offers directly to each port community to provide humanitarian aid following the suspension of ongoing cruises.

“My heart breaks for Alaska and its wonderful people as we face a potential second year without any cruise operations during the all-important summer tourist season, dealing another blow to Alaska’s tourism economy. “CEO Frank Del Rio said in the statement. “Alaska is one of our customers’ most popular cruise destinations and we are doing everything in our power to safely resume our operations in the United States, which will provide much needed relief for families,” communities and small businesses that depend on cruise tourism for their livelihood. “

The announcement did not include specific dollar figures for each community, and a representative for the company could not be immediately reached for comment.

But the Sitka Assembly took action last week to accept a $ 1 million offer. And Juneau city manager Rorie Watt said the capital will be offered $ 2 million.

“I take it just as a sincere, good faith effort to try to be of service,” Watt said. “You know, I think that has very good symbolic value for them as well.”

Watt said NCL officials began discussing donations with him in the fall, long before news broke that some residents were trying to limit cruise ship traffic to Juneau through voting initiatives.

Watt said there were no conditions, but the Juneau Assembly will have the final say on whether the money is accepted.

The cruise industry as a whole has been for the most part unable to navigate during the pandemic. But outside of the pandemic, NCL has made significant infrastructure investments in Southeast Alaska, including in Hoonah, Ketchikan and Juneau.

“You know, they definitely have a long-term view. They are trying to develop a system, ”Watt said.

The holding company operates Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

The company said it was working as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s process to resume cruises by July 4. She said mandatory vaccinations of all guests and crew are a cornerstone of her plan.


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Picturesque town in Dorset named one of UK’s best seaside resorts

A town in Dorset has been ranked among the UK’s best seaside resorts to visit, according to a consumer survey.

Who? marked the coastal zone in its most recent survey of UK seaside towns.

The survey asked more than 4,000 vacationers to rank their trip to the sea before revealing the top and lowest-ranked destinations in the country.

The survey rated value for money, attractions, scenery and beaches, and the average hotel price and gave it a score out of five.

While Bamburgh in Northumberland has established itself as the Best Town, Swanage has been ranked among the Best Towns based on positive reviews of its features.

Swanage has been praised for its scenery and attractions. Photo: Gill Richards

The survey gave four stars for its beach, attractions, scenery, peace and quiet and value for money.

With all four stars across the board, the city achieved an overall satisfaction score of 80% and placed eighth with Filey in North Yorkshire, Southwold in Suffolk and St Davids in Pembrokeshire.

It comes after the Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide named Swanage and the Purbecks among the best places to live in the Southwest.

Elsewhere in Dorset, Lyme Regis scored a 74% satisfaction rating, with four stars awarded for its scenery while its beach, attractions, tranquility and value for money all received three stars.

Weymouth has been awarded four stars for its beach, attractions and scenery, three stars for value for money and two stars for peace and quiet. Like Lyme Regis, he also achieved a 74 percent satisfaction score.

Dorset Echo: How have Dorset seaside resorts fared in Which?  investigation.How did Dorset seaside resorts fare in Which? investigation.

Like Weymouth, Bournemouth was awarded four stars for its beach, attractions and scenery, but was awarded two stars for its quietness and value for money.

Poole was awarded four stars for its attractions and scenery and three stars for its beaches, quietness and good value for money. Poole and Bournemouth both got a satisfaction score of 69 percent.

The what ? An investigation is being released as another year of stays are expected amid ongoing travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

One who? The spokesperson said: “Thirty of the nearly 100 UK destinations have been awarded four or five stars for peace and quiet.

“It will be especially valuable this year as the uncertainty surrounding overseas travel has resulted in a boom in bookings for domestic stays.

“This may be one of the reasons why lesser-known places such as Beer in Devon and Ullapool in the Scottish Highlands have upped our rankings, replacing old favorites but outdated in Cornwall.

“At the top of the pile, however, was Bamburgh in Northumberland. It wowed visitors with its magnificent landscapes, beach and peaceful surroundings.

The full survey is available through this link.


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