The great Alaska adventure is now underway – Royal Caribbean is back and bolder than ever as the first cruise line to sail to the Last Frontier since September 2019. Serenade of the Seas kicked off the highly anticipated comeback of the summer season when it departed on the first of a series of 7-night cruises from Seattle. The sailing marks a celebratory moment for the cruise industry, local workforce, regional suppliers and Alaska's beloved 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. Ninety-seven percent of the entire onboard community on Serenade is fully vaccinated.
A local favorite, Serenade sets course for classic cities and quaint towns like Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Icy Strait Point, Alaska, as well as the jaw-dropping Endicott Arm fjord and Dawes Glacier. The ship will be joined by Ovation of the Seas in Seattle starting Aug. 13, rounding out Royal Caribbean's great Alaska comeback in 2021.
"Cruising in Alaska is finally back, and we are excited to be the first to return. Alaska is one of the most popular destinations among our guests, especially families with young kids – children who are ineligible for the vaccine today," said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "We are grateful for the support of our partners, Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and other government and health authorities. This is a return that is significantly felt by many, including those whose communities rely on cruise tourism."
Once again, families and guests of all ages can venture out to explore the untouched wilds of Alaska by sea after more than a year. The sights will be in full view on board Serenade, thanks to ocean-facing glass elevators and floor-to-ceiling windows that keep the showstopping scenery – and wildlife sightings – in focus. Plus, there is an exciting lineup of signature guest favorites, including the rock climbing wall that touts ocean views from 40 feet, poolside movie nights under the stars and dining venues inspired by a world of flavors, such as Chops Grille, Giovanni's Table and Izumi. With impressive glaciers, an expansive coastline and mountainous landscape on display between one charming port and the next, Royal Caribbean's cruises to the Last Frontier also offer guests firsthand experiences with local experts that uncover the region's carefully preserved traditions and what has influenced the cultures, both past and present.
Serenade is 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 a celebratory Fourth of July weekend. Thirteen Royal Caribbean ships will be sailing around the world by the end of August, including Ovation of the Seas, which is set to sail on 7-night adventures to Skagway, Sitka and Juneau, Alaska and through the famed Inside Passage. The cruise line recently extended Ovation's Alaska season into October with four additional sailings. With more to be announced, the largest cruise line's current lineup of returning ships is available here.
Health and safety measures for Alaska cruises
Vacationers sailing to Alaska can cruise with peace of mind knowing that Royal Caribbean requires that all crew members and guests who meet the age of eligibility for the vaccine are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. As of Aug. 1, the vaccine age requirement for travelers will be lowered from age 16 to 12. Children younger than the eligible age must undergo testing and follow other health and safety protocols. A full list of the travel requirements for Alaska cruises are available here.
The vaccine policy is one of the cruise line's multilayered measures that safeguard the well-being of all guests, crew members and the communities at each port of call. These protocols include the ships' robust ventilation systems, enhanced cleaning and sanitization, and cruising at reduced occupancy as ships initially return to sailing.
To sail with families and travelers of all ages, including children ineligible for the vaccine, Serenade successfully completed a simulated voyage and received a Conditional Sailing Certificate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The certificate confirms Royal Caribbean's health and safety measures fulfill the CDC's guidance and requirements.