(2:55 p.m. EST) -- Princess Cruises has announced it will redeploy Sapphire Princess to Taiwan during the summer 2021, resulting in the cancellation of its planned Alaskan cruises from Vancouver and Whittier.
"Due to a change in deployment, Princess Cruises has cancelled all 2021 Alaska cruises and cruisetours aboard Sapphire Princess," read a statement sent by Princess Cruises to travel advisors this week. "Sapphire Princess' new 2021 Summer deployment will be announced at a later date.
The 2,670-passenger Sapphire Princess had been scheduled to operate Princess Cruises' classic "Voyage of the Glaciers" sailings that operate between Vancouver, British Columbia and Whittier, Alaska.
Princess notes that Royal Princess, Grand Princess and Coral Princess still operate these Voyage of the Glaciers itineraries and recommends cruisers transfer to one of those.
Sapphire Princess, meanwhile, has been redeployed to Taiwan. Eagle-eyed Cruise Critic readers spotted the vessel's new itineraries on Princess Cruises' Taiwanese website.
The ship will sail a mixture of three- and four-night roundtrip itineraries from the port of Keelung (Taipei), calling on Kinmen, Penghu, and Matsu -- all domestic ports of call.
The new sailings, which operate between April and September, be available only for Taiwanese residents to book. Taiwan, which has a low rate of COVID-19, has had successful cruising since late July, when Genting's Dream Cruise Line began sailing its ship Explorer Dream on short itineraries within the country.
In an email to Cruise Critic, a Princess Cruises spokesperson confirmed the changes. Affected passengers are being notified directly or via travel agents.
The 2004-built Sapphire Princess has, until now, been a major staple on the Alaska cruise routes. It is the second vessel the line has pulled from Alaska for the 2021 season, following the sale of the 1995-built Sun Princess and its immediate removal from the fleet.
Port officials in Alaska have previously noted how crucial the 2021 cruise season is to their continued success, with towns like Skagway suffering significant losses as a result of the lost 2020 cruise season.