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Portage Glacier Cruises sets sail for the first time this season

Marcelle Roemmich captains the M/V Ptarmigan on a tour of Portage Lake and Portage Glacier on Saturday, June 13, 2020. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

The M/V Ptarmigan set sail for the 2020 season on Saturday, taking a dozen paying passengers out on Portage Lake to see Portage Glacier. On a ship built for 150, that left a lot of room to spread out.

“This year will definitely look a lot different,” said captain Marcelle Roemmich, who is in her seventh season with the company. “We’re focused a lot more on cleaning and social distancing,” she said. “And just making sure that Alaskans have something to get out and do in the summertime.”

People take selfies with Portage Glacier while aboard the M/V Ptarmigan on Portage Lake Saturday, June 13, 2020. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

Vanessa Colorado, a Colombian living in Phoenix, came to Alaska last week and was on the tour with her friend Colton Hamock and her dog Mocca, a Morkie. “The weather right now is amazing,” she said. “When I came before everything was frozen.”

Colorado said she is happy with the state's new travel mandate. She said she took a COVID-19 test before she left Phoenix and was able to travel the next day. "I think they're doing it right," she said.

Portage Glacier, seen from the M/V Ptarmigan on Portage Lake Saturday, June 13, 2020. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

Portage Glacier Cruises, which operates the M/V Ptarmigan, has taken steps to reduce the chance of spreading the novel coronavirus, including removing some seating from the boat, reducing its maximum capacity by one-third to allow passengers to spread out. The crew is required to wear masks, and surfaces are disinfected after every trip. They have also reduced the number of days they operate from seven to five, although they are still planning on doing five sailings a day.

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