It’s 45 days — give or take — until the cruise ships will return to Ketchikan.
Or, maybe not.
In the span of time between now and then, maybe Tongass Narrows will dry up. Perhaps the seagulls that frequent the port and the ships’ preferred berth will be declared protected under the Endangered Species Act, prohibiting ships from docking.
Or, maybe, just maybe, the cruise lines will double, triple or quadruple their anticipated July and August visits to the First City.
Whatever happens, as evidenced in recent years, the community gains nothing by being fearful nor getting its expectations too high.
It is best to take one day at a time. Nothing can be done about what has been. The future isn’t here yet.
So, when we, like you, picked up a copy of the Daily News on Friday morning to read the headline: “Fla. lawsuit imperils Alaska cruise season,” our response was, “Of course, one more challenge. Why not? It has been one struggle to the next for one Ketchikan industry or another through the decades.” This, too, will pass.
A couple weeks ago, the Alaska congressional delegation managed to gain the support of their colleagues and President Joe Biden for a bill to enable foreign-flagged cruise ships to sail from Washington state directly to Alaska, skipping a foreign port call along the way. An old law states that the ships may not sail directly between two U.S. ports without stopping in a foreign port. Hence, the ships stop in British Columbia before coming into Ketchikan.
The suspension of that old law is effective until the 2022 cruise ship season. For this season, the ships will operate under a conditional sailing order.
The congressional effort is in jeopardy now, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because of a lawsuit that Florida filed against the CDC in order to dispose of the conditional sailing order that allows for the cruise industry to resume.
Other coastal states, including Alaska, endorsed the suit.
The CDC says the suspension of the law that Alaska acquired essentially ratifies the sailing order and, if Florida prevailed in disposing of the sailing order, then it would end cruising in Alaska this season.
This, too, will be sorted out. It might not be the only wave to rock the cruise industry and the communities depending upon it before the season resumes. Probably not. But, one day at a time and the cruise ships will come again.
If only the feds’ livelihood depended on the industry, then it quickly would figure out how to smooth the route to that return.