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Cruise Lines International Association, which represents 95% of the cruise industry, introduced mandatory requirements to be able to set sail again. USA TODAY

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After facing a devastating year that saw no cruise vessels call on ports in Alaska and British Columbia as a result of the global COVID-19 health pandemic, cities on the itineraries that rely on tourism say that having ships return in 2021 is crucial for their survival.

Andrew Cremata, borough mayor for the popular Alaskan cruise port of Skagway remarked on the current situation faced by his town, and numerous other port of call in Southeast Alaska, during a panel discussion at the virtual Seatrade conference on Wednesday.

"This is about survival for Skagway," said Cremata, who said that the cruise industry makes up as much as 95% of the town's overall revenue.

"It is essential for our small businesses that they are able to engage the cruise ship companies and the cruise ship passengers in a normal way. They local businesses are going to go 17 months in a best-case scenario without any revenue. April, May of 2021 represents the chance to right the ship."

Cruise industry mandates new COVID-19 protocols:  Testing, masks, ventilation

Regulations, border closures hamper ships' return

The Alaska cruise industry has been plagued with massive job losses and severe economic effects as a result of both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's Transport Canada's current ban on cruise operations within Canadian waters.Both orders are currently in effect through October 31, 2020.

For Cremata, the lost a second ship when Princess Cruises unexpectedly sold its 1995-built Sun Princess, which was scheduled to cruise the region between May and August of next year.

Vancouver Fraser Port ity's Xotta concludes that the onus now rests on ports and cruise lines to work with community and government stakeholders to ensure that the 2021 cruise season is allowed to proceed.For Cremata, whatever it takes to resume cruise in 2021 will benefit his community.

"Whether you're a pro-masker or an anti-masker, it's irrelevant," Cremata concluded. "The only thing that's relevant is being ready when the cruise ships arrive.

"If that requires wearing 30 masks over our face before we engage the cruise ship passengers, I intend to be wearing 30 masks. I guarantee most everyone else in Skagway will be as well."

More from Cruise Critic:

  • Cruise executives optimistic cruises can restart from U.S. this year
  • Royal Caribbean will resume cruising in Asia in December
  • What changes might be coming to onboard entertainment?
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