(Updated 11 a.m. EDT) -- Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises will be sailing to Alaska from Seattle this summer, the companies announced today.
The July sailings will depart with vaccinated crew, and a requirement that all passengers over the age of 16 be fully vaccinated. As of August 1, 2021, all U.S. guests ages 12 and older must be fully vaccinated.
“We are so pleased that Congress unanimously voted to pass legislation enabling cruise ships to sail to Alaska this season," said Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean Group chairman and CEO.
“We are thrilled Alaskans will be able to welcome cruise visitors this year knowing how important the tourism industry is to the economy and the communities we visit. It’s been a tough year for everyone, but people clearly have pent-up demand to cruise again, and we can’t wait to get back to what we do best, delivering world class vacations to our guests. Our immense gratitude goes to Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and Congressman Young along with Governor Dunleavey, and the Alaska State Legislature for making this reality happen.”
In a Facebook post, Royal Caribbean President Michael Bayley said that Royal will send two cruise ships, Serenade of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, to Alaska in July and August this summer.
"The light continues to shine!" he wrote. "Serenade of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas will sail to Alaska in July and August! Details to follow."
Serenade of the Seas will begin cruising on July 19, moving to Seattle from its original Vancouver homeport. POrts include Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Icy Strait Point, as well as Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier.
Ovation of the Seas sets sail on August 13 from Seattle. The Quantum-class ship will visit Glacier National Park, Juneau and Skagway. Both Royal Caribbean ships are currently available for booking.
Celebrity will send Celebrity Millennium to Alaska, beginning July 23. The ship will stop at Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway, and sail Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier. The season will end in mid-September, when the ship will reposition to the Caribbean.
Initially, Celebrity had intended to send sister-ship Celebrity Summit to Alaska before a paperwork issue necessitated the swap to Celebrity Millennium in early June.
On Twitter, Celebrity Cruises President Lisa Lutoff-Perlo posted a photo of a Celebrity cruise ship in Alaska.
"Amazing development today for Alaska's communities!" she tweeted. "One more signature and then Alaska, here we come!
Itineraries for Celebrity's Alaska sailings went on sale May 25.
Royal's announcement follows one made by Carnival Corporation on Thursday. Just hours after Congress passed legislation allowing cruise ships to bypass an old maritime law requiring foreign-flagged vessels to stop in Canada, three of the biggest cruise lines in the region -- Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line -- all announced voyages from Seattle to Alaska starting in late July.
While Norwegian Cruise Line has not made an official announcement, cruises to Alaska from Seattle on Norwegian Bliss are currently offered for sale on their website.
The legislation, called the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, passed the Senate on May 13 and was approved by the House of Representatives on May 20, both times with bipartisan support. As of this writing, it still needed to be signed by President Joe Biden.
There's still one more hurdle for the cruise lines to leap before the sailings can happen. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention have to sign off on final plans. The cruise lines do not have to hold test cruises if they agree to guarantee that 95 percent of passengers and 98 percent of crew are vaccinated.
Cruise Critic will update this article with more information when available.