Alaska cruise ends early after passengers test positive for COVID-19; next sailing canceled

Jul 10, 2021

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A cruise on one of the first vessels to restart operations in Alaska is ending early after two passengers and a crew member tested positive for COVID-19.

Small-ship specialist American Cruise Lines‘ 170-passenger American Constellation is returning to its home port of Juneau, Alaska, four days ahead of schedule after the positive cases were discovered on Friday.

The ship was visiting the small Alaska town of Petersburg at the time.

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“American Cruise Lines has implemented its COVID-19 response plan in Alaska and is coordinating with state and local health officials following the detection of COVID-19 on board,” the line said early Saturday in a statement sent to TPG. “Out of an abundance of caution, the line’s small ship will return to port in Juneau and the next cruise, scheduled to depart on July 14th, will be canceled.”

The two passengers and one crew member who tested positive for COVID-19, along with their close contacts, were taken off the ship in Petersburg and isolated, the government of Juneau said in a press release.

The ship was sailing with 162 passengers and 52 crew members, including an onboard nurse — all of whom were tested for COVID-19 after a passenger began feeling ill.

All of the passengers were required to be fully vaccinated to sail. Many, but not all, of the crew were fully vaccinated.

The government of Juneau said unvaccinated crew members will be quarantined on board the ship in Juneau for 10 days. The remaining passengers on board will be flown home from Juneau.

Isolated cases of COVID-19 on the cruise ships that have restarted operations in recent months are not unusual, and cruise lines have new protocols in place designed to minimize both the spread of the illness and the disruption to the cruise experience when such cases occur. The situation aboard American Constellation is unusual in that it is resulting in the early cancellation of the current sailing and the next sailing of the vessel.

Indeed, American Constellation is the only cruise vessel that has restarted operations in North America in recent months to have a sailing cut short due to COVID-19.

American Cruise Lines was one of the first cruise operators in North America to restart sailings and until this week had carried more than 10,000 passengers on 130 sailings this year without incident, according to the line.

The Connecticut-based line is the leader in small-ship cruises in U.S. waters with 13 vessels that sail along coastal waterways and on rivers from New England to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

A spokesperson for the line told TPG that passengers on this week’s American Constellation sailing would be compensated for the portion of the trip they will miss.

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Featured image of American Constitution, a sister vessel to American Constellation, courtesy of  American Cruise Lines.

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