The Government of Canada has announced a one-year ban on cruise vessels sailing in Canadian waters effective until Feb. 28, 2022, impacting Alaska cruise itineraries.
As the country continues to monitor the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the marine and tourism sectors, Canada’s Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, announced two new Interim Orders which will significantly impact the cruise sector and Alaska itineraries.
The details of the new ruling will prohibit all adventure-seeking pleasure craft from entering Arctic waters, as well as prohibit passenger vessels carrying more than 12 people from entering Arctic coastal waters, including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, and the Labrador Coast. Additionally cruise vessels carrying more than 100 people will be prohibited from operating in Canadian waters. There is no national ban for smaller cruise ships certified to carry 100 or fewer people.
“As Canadians continue to do their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19, our government continues to work hard to ensure Canada’s transportation system remains safe,” said Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport, in a press release statement. “Temporary prohibitions to cruise vessels and pleasure craft are essential to continue to protect the most vulnerable among our communities and avoid overwhelming our health care systems. This is the right and responsible thing to do.”
With these prohibitions in place, Canadian public health authorities will continue to focus on the vaccine rollout and the threat of new COVID-19 variants. The Government of Canada will continue to evaluate the situation and make changes as necessary to ensure the health and safety of all Canadians. Should the COVID-19 pandemic sufficiently improve to allow the resumption of these activities, the Minister of Transport has the ability to rescind the Interim Orders.
Canada’s ban on cruise ships had been set to expire on Feb. 28, 2021. The new ruling will impact Alaska cruises as well as New England cruises, which rely on a stop in Canada to make the visit legal under U.S. law. Penalties for violating the ban include $5,000 per day for individuals and $25,000 per day for groups or corporations.
Royal Caribbean has three cruise ships scheduled to sail to Alaska in 2021. Itineraries on Ovation, Serenade, and Radiance of the Seas will all be impacted by the new ruling. Quantum of the Seas had already had its entire 2021 Alaska season cancelled last month, and will remain in the Asia-Pacific region.
For more information on Canada’s cruise ban click here.