Royal Caribbean Becomes 1st Cruise Line to Return to Alaska

Serenade of the Seas
Serenade of the Seas, which is homeported in Seattle, set sail on July 19 as the first cruise ship to head for Alaska since September 2019. Photo by Royal Caribbean.

On July 19, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Serenade of the Seas kicked off the summer season when it departed for Alaska as part of the first of a series of seven-night cruises from its home port of Seattle.

The sailing marked a celebratory moment for the cruise industry, local workforce, regional suppliers and Alaska communities that were significantly impacted by the absence of all cruise tourism, which normally represents more than 60% of the state’s visitors and generates upwards of $3 billion for its economy each year.

“Cruising in Alaska is finally back, and we are excited to be the first to return,” Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley said. “Alaska is one of the most popular destinations among our guests, especially families with young kids – children who are ineligible for the vaccine today.”

Bayley thanked Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (both R-Alaska) for helping make the return of Alaska cruises possible, as well as other government and health authorities.

“This is a return that is significantly felt by many, including those whose communities rely on cruise tourism,” he remarked.

During the seven-day voyage, Serenade set course for such Alaska cities and towns as Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Icy Strait Point. The ship is expected to be joined by Ovation of the Seas in Seattle beginning Aug. 13.

Serenade was the cruise industry’s first ship to return to Alaska and the second in Royal Caribbean’s world-class fleet to welcome back guests in the U.S. after Freedom of the Seas set sail from Miami for the Fourth of July weekend.

Thirteen Royal Caribbean ships will be sailing around the world by the end of August, including the aforementioned Ovation of the Seas, which is set to sail on seven-night adventures to Skagway, Sitka and Juneau, Alaska and through the Inside Passage. The cruise line recently extended Ovation’s Alaska season into October with four additional sailings.

Ninety-seven percent of Serenade’s entire onboard community was fully vaccinated at the time of the July 19 voyage, according to Royal Caribbean. As of Aug. 1, the vaccine age requirement for travelers was lowered from age 16 to 12. Children younger than the eligible age must undergo testing and follow other health and safety protocols.