Alaska Senator Introduces Bill Allowing Cruise Ships To Sailing Permanently To Alaska Without Stopping In Canada
A new bill seeks to permanently bypass U.S. cabotage laws so that cruise ships can still visit Alaska without needing to stop in Canada.
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) on Wednesday announced she would introduce a new bill in Congress that would permanently allow foreign-flagged cruise ships to sail to Alaska without having to stop in Canada by creating a permanent exemption from the Passenger Ship Services Act (PVSA).
At the start of the global health crisis, Canada banned cruise ships from its waters, meaning that in 2021, when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began re-authorizing them. cruise ships to navigate, cruises to Alaska were still not possible due to PVSA.
Senator Murkowski wants this bill to become law to prevent the same situation that occurred in 2020 and early 2021 from happening again, where the Canadian ban on cruise ships had a huge impact on the economy of Alaska.
“While the PVSA is well-intentioned to protect American jobs and businesses, it has had the unintended consequence of placing Alaskan businesses at the mercy of the Canadian government. It has nearly wiped out the economies of Southeastern Australia. ‘Alaska as we saw business after business ready to welcome visitors, but unable because Canadians would not respond to our requests to allow foreign stopovers at their ports to meet PVSA requirements. We cannot leave that happen again, ”said Senator Murkowski.
Foreign-flagged cruise ships (all of which are Royal Caribbean ships) must call at a foreign port on a return trip from the United States.
The law is part of the Passenger Ship Service Act (PVSA) of 1886, and if left in place, cruises to Alaska from Seattle, WA could not sail legally.
The rationale for both the PVSA is to protect the United States Merchant Navy (licensed personnel (officers) and documented (trades) on ships) and to protect the United States shipyards that build and repair ships.
Senator Murkowski believes that while Lower 48 is still useless, it became apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic that Alaska needed an exemption due to Canada’s border closures.
She will introduce legislation next week that would permanently exempt Alaskan cruises carrying more than 1,000 passengers from the PVSA.
“Ultimately, we must reform the PVSA so that the ability of Alaskans to engage in trade is not compromised by the government of another country.”
This is not the first time that a bill like this has become law.
Sen. Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) were successful in getting a bill passed earlier this year to provide temporary PVSA relief for this year alone in the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act. This bill was passed by both houses of Congress and was promulgated by President Joe Biden in May 2021.