This week's change has nothing to do with the tax, however. As it was originally written, the law also required cruise lines to disclose commission rates that Alaska tour operators pay to have their tours sold onboard ships. But tour operators felt this disclosure would expose the price structures of local businesses, which could lead to unfair price undercutting.
According to media reports, the new bill (H217) offers an alternative: Rather than disclose actual commission rates, cruise lines can disclose only that Alaska tour operators pay to advertise their tours onboard -- as long as they also let passengers know they are free to book other tours on their own and provide information to help them do so.
At this point, it's not clear what this specifically means for cruise passengers (informational sheets handed out at shore excursions desks, for example). At press time, we had not heard back from any of the major players in the region we contacted, including Carnival and Princess.
--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor