Alaska News

Southeast Alaska cruise cut short and another canceled after 3 people test positive for COVID-19

Three people are isolating in Petersburg after testing positive for COVID-19 while onboard a small cruise ship. The remaining passengers returned to Juneau, where the cruise ended.

In an online statement Thursday, the Petersburg Medical Center said it confirmed that one passenger tested positive for COVID-19 onboard the American Constellation cruise ship. The medical center was notified that two more people had tested positive Friday, including one crew member.

Two of the three people who contracted the virus were fully vaccinated, according to American Cruise Lines. The people who tested positive for COVID-19 are staying in isolation in Petersburg with an American Cruise Lines representative to help them, the medical center said.

The American Constellation is a smaller cruise ship that had 162 passengers and 52 crew members onboard last week, according to a statement from the City and Borough of Juneau. American Cruise Lines, the company that operates the American Constellation, began the season last month and was the first cruise ship to dock in Haines since the end of the 2019 season, the company said.

American Cruise Lines requires all passengers sailing on Alaska cruises to be fully vaccinated, the company policy said. Some of the crew members onboard the ship were not fully vaccinated, the medical center said.

“Additional crew members who are not fully vaccinated and were considered close contacts to the positive crew member are also being tested for COVID-19 and will be placed in quarantine on the vessel,” the medical center said.

Fully vaccinated passengers were allowed to leave the ship Friday in Petersburg for tourism-related activities, the medical center said. Officials determined the risk to the community was low.

The cruise ship left Petersburg Friday afternoon and arrived in Juneau early Saturday, according to Juneau officials. Unvaccinated crew members quarantined on the ship in Juneau and passengers flew out from there, the statement said.

American Cruise Lines canceled its next cruise, which was scheduled for July 14, “out of an abundance of caution,” the company said.

The pandemic halted cruises in Alaska for more than a year and caused economic distress in coastal communities that rely on tourism.

It was unclear early this year whether cruise ships would arrive in Alaska for the season because a Canadian cruise ship ban prevented ships from stopping in the country, required by federal law for foreign-registered ships. Alaska politicians pushed to suspend the law and a waiver was signed by President Joe Biden in May that allowed for large cruises to sail to Alaska.

The first large ship docked in Ketchikan last week.

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