Seattle-based cruises resume with new COVID protocols

SEATTLE — As cruises to Alaska resume for the first time since 2019, Seattle-based Holland America Line’s safety plan begins with vaccinations.

They’re required for passengers cruising out of Seattle.

Passengers stepping aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam for the first sailing of the season on Saturday will show proof of vaccination as well as undergo COVID screening.

On at least the first few cruises, no one under 12 will be aboard because of the vaccination requirement.

The first cruise will also have fewer passengers, with capacity capped at 65%.

“We’ll be ramping up, after every voyage, we’ll be taking a few more,” said Gus Antorcha, President of Holland America Line.

Antorcha said passengers won’t see many of the changes, like the upgraded air filtration system.

They will notice buffet areas that used to be self-serve now have workers to hand out food and drinks.

Crew members are vaccinated but are still required to wear masks.

There’s no masking or distancing requirement for passengers, and entertainment will go on as usual.

“It should absolutely feel very normal,” Antorcha said.

The Nieuw Amsterdam will sail 11 times out of Seattle in 2021.

The cruise line plans 46 departures from Seattle on three ships in 2022.