In this photo taken Wednesday, May 30, 2018, a sail boat maneuvers near a large cruise ship near Juneau, Alaska. On Monday night, members of the City and Borough of Juneau's Committee of the Whole considered whether to authorize city manager Rorie Watt to enter into port agreements that allow unvaccinated minors to visit Juneau with their families as long as certain conditions are met. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, file)

City to consider allowing unvaccinated kids onboard Juneau-bound cruise ships

The assembly is set to make a final decision later this month.

Parents considering a cruise to Alaska this summer may have the option of adding their young kids to their travel plans.

Cruise lines that cater to families are one step closer to getting the green light to bring some unvaccinated minors to Juneau once large-deck cruise ships resume trips to Southeast Alaska.

On Monday night, members of the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly’s Committee of the Whole considered whether to authorize city manager Rorie Watt to enter into port agreements that allow unvaccinated minors to visit Juneau with their families as long as certain conditions are met. The assembly is set to make a final decision at their June 14 meeting.

CBJ authorizes city manager to enter port agreements with cruise lines

The move would mean that up to 210 unvaccinated children could arrive on each Royal Caribbean ship this summer. Though adults and crew aboard the vessel must be vaccinated. The number of allowable unvaccinated children is driven by the ship’s overall capacity.

Last month, assembly members unanimously authorized Watt to enter into the required agreements on behalf of the City and Borough of Juneau, as long as specific requirements outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — including vaccination thresholds — are met.

At the time, Watt said that cruise lines that cater to families had approached him about the possibility of offering cruises with lower vaccination rates so that children under age 12, who are not authorized to be vaccinated, could sail along with their families.

The CDC recently approved the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12 and older, and clinical trials are underway for younger children. Though the timeline for approval is unknown, most experts expect approval to be granted later this year.

US House passes bill that could allow an Alaska cruise season

Sailing conditions

According to a memo shared with the assembly, ships arriving in Juneau with unvaccinated minors must meet these criteria:

— Provide a schedule in advance.

— Agree to all CDC requirements, including a simulated voyage to check all COVID-19 protocols.

— Ensure that 90% of the total number of passengers are vaccinated, including all adults and all crew and that no more than five percent of passengers are unvaccinated minors.

According to Watt, the cities of Hoonah, Ketchikan and Skagway are in the process of signing similar port agreements.

Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891.

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