By Gretchen Wehmhoff

A few weeks after reducing their Alaska cruise fleet by 75%, two major cruise lines pulled the plug on the rest of the season in Alaska. 

Princess Cruises announced on its website Wednesday that, “Due to reduced air flight availability, the closure of cruise ports in regions around the world and other factors impacting travel…” they would be cancelling all Alaska cruises. The Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess were the last two ships left in their Alaska line-up.

The cruise line is also cancelling all remaining European and Transatlantic cruises, as well as  summer cruises to the Caribbean, Canada and New England. Princess is also cancelling Pacific cruises in July and the fall.  Princess had earlier discontinued all land excursions in Alaska.

Holland America announced this week that all Alaska, Europe, Canada and New England voyages will be put on “pause.”  The cruise line previously cancelled all Land-Sea Journeys through Alaska and Yukon.

This follows Carnival’s announcement in April that the Carnival Spirit would not sail to Skagway this season.

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen the Skagway cruise season dwindle to a thin schedule of sailings. Recent cruise line announcements, along with Carnival’s retreat, take two dozen more ships out of Southeast Alaskan waters.

White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR) is in a “waiting game” according to Jaime Bricker, director of public relations.  Excursions out of Skagway keep the rail route busy during the normally heavy tourist season. While the passenger count is falling short, there is still plenty of work to be done.

“We are grateful to be able to keep people at work as long as we can,” said Bricker.

WP&YR runs routes into Yukon, Canada. The current border closing has been a challenge for the company. Technically, the rail line is federally mandated, however, the current status of the U.S. and Canada border complicates tourism.  

Bricker says the Fraser Border Services have been working with WP&YR to keep them updated on the current situation as it changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Assuming there is a start to the season, Jacqui Taylor-Rose, manager of marketing and product development, says  WP&YR still plans to run its summit excursions to mile 20.4.

In the meantime, WP&YR is awaiting its second new locomotive to arrive via barge on May 18.