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Cruise ships banned from docking in Canada for a year

Last Updated Feb 4, 2021 at 6:38 pm PDT


The federal government has banned cruise ships in all Canadian waters until February 2022

The measures are meant to limit the spread of COVID-19

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Cruise ship season in Vancouver is cancelled this year, with the federal government banning the vessels in all Canadian waters until next year.

All cruise ships carrying 100 or more people continue to be prohibited from operating until Feb. 28, 2022. “Adventure-seeking pleasure crafts” aren’t allowed to enter Arctic waters, and any passenger boats carrying more than 12 people still can’t enter Arctic coastal waters, including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, and the Labrador Coast.

The measures are meant to limit the spread of COVID-19 and allow public health authorities to focus on immediate issues related to the pandemic.

“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,” Omar Alghabra, federal minister of transport, says in a 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.”

The ministry of transportation notes cruise ships pose a risk to Canada’s healthcare systems.

While the order will continue to be evaluated by the government, it won’t be rescinded unless the pandemic improves and it is safe to do so.

RELATED: Feds announce flight restrictions, cruise ship ban amid COVID-19 outbreak

Essential vehicles, like ferries and water taxis, can still operate if local public health guidelines are followed.

The temporary measures for cruise ships and pleasure crafts were set to expire Feb. 28.

Individuals found breaking the order could be fined $5,000 a day. For groups or corporations, the penalty is $25,000 per day.

For B.C., cruises are a multi-billion dollar industry.

According to the Port of Vancouver, the cruise ship industry is “critical to economic recovery.”

“The Vancouver cruise industry is a key contributor to the local economy, stimulating $3.17 million in direct economic activity for each ship that calls at Canada Place, and $2.2 billion of total economic impact,” reads a statement.

In the meantime, the port’s focus will be on developing a restart plan when it is safe for cruise ships to sail again in Canadian waters, the statement reads.

“We remain committed to working with all levels of government, local communities and industry partners to restore confidence for cruise travel. When the time is right, we look forward to welcoming cruise travellers from within British Columbia, Canada and around the world.”

Sanjay Goel, president of Cruise Connections, says it’s another hard day for the industry and for people who like to travel.

“I certainly expected the season to be affected. I didn’t think the season would be essentially eliminated. So I guess that’s a reflection of the government’s perspective on continuing to flatten the curve.”

He’s not sure yet quite how they’ll pivot to the loss of the Alaska route, a major market for the cruise industry.

Goel believes it will be another year of staycations for Canadians.

-with files from Marcella Bernardo and Tamara Slobogean