After their cruises kick off, tourists infected with the coronavirus go home on Alaska cruises and ferries


Alaska’s LeConte ferry bound for Juneau on August 3, 2022 (Claire Stremple/KTOO)

Passengers with COVID say they were not allowed to board their cruise ship in Skagway this week. Instead, they say Holland America helped them book a flight on a government ferry and then an Air Alaska flight from Juneau – the day after they tested positive.

Diana and Larry Leerer were supposed to set sail from Skagway in Koningsdam, Holland, America, after a bus tour through the Inland and Canada. But they tested positive for COVID-19 when they arrived in Skagway on Tuesday.

“It went well in the first test and the second one didn’t happen,” Diana told Lehrer.

The next day the couple was on the government ferry, seated masked near the front windows. LeConte was full of passengers from Skagway and Haines headed to Juneau.

“They wouldn’t let us board the cruise ship because that would be a problem, so they gave us the option to quarantine here in Skagway or go home,” Lehrer said.

Lehrer said she was aware when she booked the package that if she or her husband fixed during the bus trip, they would not be allowed to board the cruise ship.

“We knew it could happen, but we didn’t think it would happen to us,” she said.

She said Holland America took care of them after they tested positive. The company paid for their hotel and delivered meals to their rooms.

“They guide you through everything,” she said. “They completely rebooked our travel. They made it so easy.”

A Holland America spokesperson said that this is not company policy. It will only help customers reschedule travel after the five-day quarantine.

But Larry Leerer later confirmed in an email that after one night in isolation in Skagway, a Dutch employee booked his travel. He wrote: “We only had to make one phone call to a Holland and America schedule phone number and they did their magic in less than ten minutes.”

Skagway Mayor Andrew Cremata said ferry or plane travel outside Skagway for travelers with active COVID-19 cases is not part of the municipality’s port agreement with Holland America.

“I know it’s happening,” Cremata said.

“There were groups of people with COVID at the airport who were sent home, trying to leave, and then groups of people were put on the ferry,” he said.

You don’t have to test negative on a state ferry or Alaska Airlines flights, but both have a policy of not traveling if you are sick.

Laura Bronck and her husband were on the same tour with the Lehrers – then they were at LeConte too after testing positive. Bronk said their tour guide recommended the ferry over a small plane out of town.

She said the cruise company offered them five nights in solitude on Skagway, but they decided to take the ferry instead. She said the Netherlands would pay them for the ferry ticket.

“Your leave is over, you can also go home,” Bronk said.

As for the Lehrers, the couple plans to take flights from their Juneau home to the East Coast. They say their symptoms are mild – a runny nose and a bit of a cold.

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