KETCHIKAN (AP) -- The Immigration and Naturalization Service has reinstated inspections of some Victoria, British Columbia-based cruise ships traveling to Southeast Alaska.
Officials said allowing en route inspections reduces the possibility of delays for cruise ship passengers arriving in Alaska.
About 17 cruise ships are scheduled to travel from Victoria to Alaska this summer. That's a big jump compared to the four vessels that cruised from the Canadian port last season.
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the INS has been stretched to cover the increase in security.
To cover the federal agency's duties, en route inspections were dropped from vessels leaving Victoria, according to the INS. But because of a policy change, six of the remaining 11 ships headed to communities in Southeast from Victoria will be inspected while underway, said Richard Cropp, immigration officer in Ketchikan.
''That was agreeable to the cruise lines,'' Cropp told the Ketchikan Daily News.
The deal allows the INS to do en route inspections that fit into the agency's schedule, said Cropp. It also helps keep more INS personnel available for other duties.
The five Ketchikan-based officers serve all of Southeast Alaska.
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