Canada’s government will restrict cruise ships with more than 500 passengers from calling at its ports until at least July 1, delaying the start of the Alaska cruise season for most large ship lines.
The decision will impact Alaska cruises from Seattle that have to call in Victoria, B.C., in accordance with U.S. cabotage laws requiring foreign-flagged ships sailing from U.S. ports to call in a foreign port before returning to the U.S.
Small-ship lines that operate in Alaska with U.S.-flagged ships such as Lindblad Expeditions, Alaska Dream Cruises, Uncruise Adventures and American Cruise Lines will not be impacted.
The restriction won’t impact Canada/New England cruise itineraries, as that season starts after July 1.
More than 140 cruise ships from 10 countries docked in Canada last year, Canada said, bringing at least 2 million travellers to the country. The country also deferred all cruise vessel calls in the Canadian Arctic for the entire cruise season this year, citing the limited public health capacity in Canada’s Northern communities.
Canada’s chief public health officer has already issued a health advisory recommending that Canadians avoid going on cruise ships.
“There is no immediate solution to allow cruise ships to operate in Canada while adequately containing the public health risk associated with Covid-19, other than delaying the start of the cruise ship season,” said Canada Minister of Transport Marc Garneau. “We do not take these decisions lightly and will continue to reassess as the situation evolves.”