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Canada Opens Ports for Cruise Ships

Canada has joined the list of countries that are now open for cruise ships. After 19 long months, on November 1st, the ban on large cruise ships at Canadian ports came to an end, however, the federal government has advised its citizens against traveling aboard cruise ships. The move is largely ceremonial as the Canadian cruise season has already concluded and the last of the cruise ships operating to Alaska completed their voyage in mid-October.

Last year at the beginning of the pandemic in mid-March, Canada announced that it would close its ports for cruise ships. The ban was later extended in February 2021 till the end of this year’s cruise season. The ban also disrupted the ferry service operating on the Pacific Coast.

The Canadian Government has issued an advisory to its citizens, where citizens have been advised to avoid cruise ships until further notice. The warning was first issued in early pandemic days and it warns that travelers might end up in quarantine situations where the Canadian Government would have little diplomatic authority to assist its citizens. However, the traveler community is now asking the federal government to end the advisory against cruises.

The Honourable Omar Alghabra, MP - Canada.ca

Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra said that the decision to shorten the cruise ban was taken to aid the cruise lines in planning 2022 cruise operations. The federal government wanted to send a positive signal to the cruise industry that Canada would be open for tourists from next year. The Government officials in British Columbia said that already more than 600 cruise ship visits have been scheduled for 2022 in Victoria and Vancouver and it’s expected that more than one million passengers will be visiting each of the ports next year.

Vancouver cruise port

After Canada, now Australia, China, and New Zealand remain the large cruise markets with restrictions on cruise ships. The Australian travel community has been seeking relaxation on the cruise ban but the 2021-2022 cruise season has been largely canceled. In China, the international cruise ships are restricted but some of the domestic cruise ships have been permitted to resume operations.

Alaska Representative Don Young during the pandemic implored B.C. Premier John Horgan urge the federal government to allow so-called “technical calls,” which would allow cruise ships to dock at Canadian ports as long as no one leaves the vessels.

Cruise ships to be allowed to visit Canadian ports in November | CBC News

Young threatened to introduce legislation in Congress to allow a temporary override to a U.S. government law that requires foreign-flagged vessels to touch an international port on voyages that start and stop at U.S. ports. Horgandismissed his effort as a “blip along the way as a result of frustration by Alaska,” and something that was not likely to be successful.

When the initiative passed in Congress, Young, on May 20, tweeted to Horgan, saying “don’t underestimate Don Young and the Alaska delegation. Our bill, the ‘blip’ as you say, is now headed to be signed into law.”

That bill has since been passed in the U.S. Senate and signed by U.S. President Joe Biden, making it law. The law is set to expire as soon as Canada once again allows cruise ships to dock at Canadian ports. 

Cruise lines have put in place 2021 schedules that include direct sailings between Seattle and Alaska. 

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