Alaska 2021 cruise season comes to an end with Norwegian Encore departure from Ketchikan

Oct 22, 2021

Today’s departure of the Norwegian Encore out of Ketchikan with 2,238 guests, marks the end of Alaska 2021 cruise season. On Wednesday Norwegian Encore was the final large cruise ship, to visit Juneau, sailing on a 7-Night Alaska itinerary out of Seattle. The ship started Alaska season on July 23, is not sailing with full capacity, as per CDC health and safety regulations.

The first cruise ship to open this year’s limited Alaska season was Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas, calling at the port of Ketchikan on July 9. According to Cruise Industry News this year nine large cruise ships operated 78 voyages at reduced capacity with a gradual ramp-up through October. Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Silversea Cruises offered sailings to Alaska this season, in addition to the small cruise ship companies.

Commenting on this year's season Carl Uchytil, Juneau Port Director said: “There were fits and starts, we didn’t really know until June. We struggled to find people on short notice to maintain the facilities. It certainly was not a normal year by any metric." 115,755 visitors came to Juneau this year with large cruise ships, including Encore's passengers on Wednesday, and smaller cruise lines brought 7,263 passengers for a total of 123,018.  The last full cruise ship season, 2019, was a record year with large ships bringing 1.27 million guests and 10,000 passengers on smaller cruise lines.

Big impact on the cruise ships was caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, but even when the ships were able to sail again, Alaska took another strike with closing the Canadian borders. The businesses hardly survive, several businesses catering to the tourism industry have already closed down for the season.