Port of Seattle delays start of cruise season

    The Eurodam.

    Seattle, Washington (KINY) - The Port is working with cruise operators, the U.S. Coast Guard and others to decide how to proceed amid coronavirus concerns.

    Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation today to prevent large gatherings of over 250 people in the Seattle area.

    Port Spokesperson Peter McGraw told KIRO TV that they have daily talks with agencies that use the port.

    Port of Seattle Commission President Peter Steinbrueck announced that they have canceled sailings on April 1 of the Grand Princess and the April 5 sailing of the Celebrity Eclipse.

    The initial sailing out of Seattle is the April 15 of the Eurodam.

    The first cruise ship is expected to arrive in Juneau on April 24.   The cruise industry predicted more than 1.4 million people could visit Juneau this year before the COVID-19 situation.

    The U.S. Coast Guard and the Centers for Disease Control would make the decision on whether cruise ships are blocked from docking in Seattle due to the virus.

    CBJ Port Director Carl Uchytil said he has not heard anything official from the cruise industry and could not comment.

    Mike Tibbles with Cruise Lines International said he did not see a direct impact on Juneau at this point.

    "The two sailings canceled were ports of call and that is different from a ship that is turning to go to Alaska.  Those ports of call were not scheduled to come to Alaska.  I don't really see an impact on the Alaska season at this point because they were both sailing before our season starts."

    Tibbles said the first ship headed to Alaska is due to leave Seattle around April 15.

    Juneau City Manager Rorie Watt said he understood the precautions taken in Seattle, "We were advised in advance of today's action to close their port to passenger traffic.  We completely understand the community concerns."

    Watt said the CBJ will continue to manage the port in accordance with guidance from the State of Alaska's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    "I want the public to know that we are focusing all of our efforts on the here and now, the risk of COVID-19 today, this week and next week."


    Audio from Mike Tibbles, CLIA



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