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Short cuts: Alpine resorts open for skiing; Alaskan cruising gets a boost


Alps After a winter ruined by pandemic restrictions, ski resorts in the Alps are taking advantage of unseasonal snows and pent-up demand to open early for the summer season. In France, the lifts at Les 2 Alpes are due to start turning this weekend, almost a month earlier than usual, with skiing available between an altitude of 2,800 and 3,500 metres on the Monts de Lans glacier. The resort says conditions are excellent after 1.5 metres of fresh snow fell in May. Cervinia in Italy opened on Wednesday last week, and Madesimo, a resort that does not usually offer summer skiing, is opening runs in the remote Val di Lei area this weekend. Austria’s Mölltaler Gletscher area last weekend joined six other resorts in the country already offering skiing. Meanwhile the opening of the Col du Petit Saint Bernard, the pass between France and Italy above the resort of La Rosière, has had to be delayed because of huge snow banks on either side of the road.

Alaska Several cruise lines have announced trips to Alaska this summer thanks to new legislation signed into law by President Biden last week. The Alaska Tourism Restoration Act temporarily removes the requirements of the 135-year-old Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA), a protectionist law that prohibits foreign vessels from transporting passengers between US ports.

Given the majority of US cruise lines’ ships are registered outside the country, they ordinarily only comply with the PVSA by stopping en route to Alaska in British Columbia. Canada’s current ban on cruise ships has removed that option, leaving a legal hurdle that threatened to wipe out the Alaskan cruise industry this year. Lisa Murkowski, one of the Alaskan senators who introduced the new bill, said it was designed “to help salvage what is left of the 2021 tourism season . . . there is now a light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.” Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises and Carnival are all planning to run round-trip sailings from Seattle to Alaska, starting in July and for vaccinated passengers only.

Demand is expected to be strong. Lindblad Expeditions, which operates small US-flagged ships, is restarting its Alaska cruises next weekend and says it has had to bring in two additional ships to keep up with bookings.

Guests on a Lindblad Expeditions cruise explore the Alaskan coastline
Guests on a Lindblad Expeditions cruise explore the Alaskan coastline

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