WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Immigration and Naturalization Service will permit en route inspections for cruise ships traveling from Victoria, British Columbia to Alaska ports this summer.
U.S. immigration policy requires that cruise ships be inspected at their initial port of entry into the United States. Cruise ships sailing from Victoria would have been forced to remain in their first Alaska port of call, usually Ketchikan, Juneau or Sitka, while agents checked passengers and crew members individually.
Cruise ships owners and community leaders said the resulting delays would have forced them to spend less time in port or to skip some Alaska communities.
In 2001, four cruise ships visited Alaska from Victoria. Because of the popularity of the route, that number increased to 18 expected sailings for 2002.
In a letter last month INS Commissioner James W. Ziglar, U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski said many Southeast Alaska communities are dependent on tourism and asked Ziglar find a way to meet immigration inspection needs.
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