Wednesday, February 10, 2021
A New Reality
Hey, have you heard? All cruise ships have been banned in Canadian waters through 2021!!! Can you believe it, just when you thought you could see the light at the end of the tunnel; it turns out to be another approaching train!!!
So, let us explain:
Just as we thought the covid-19 vaccinations would put us all back on a track to normalcy; and we started planning cruises and trips to wonderful places—like Alaska in the summertime—Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport for Canada, issued a new order prohibiting all cruise vessels carrying more than 100 passengers from operating in Canadian waters until FEBRUARY 28, 2022!!! That is not a typo—yes, until February 28, 2022!!! The order was issued on Thursday, February 4, 2021. This ruling not only kills the Alaska Cruise season, but sadly, also affects the Great Lakes and Canada/New England seasons. This would also include the Canadian Maritimes as well as the Canadian Arctic. There will be a lot of disappointed travelers. There will also be a lot of economic turmoil in those port cities that depend on cruise ship tourism. And just this morning, Adventure Canada (a one-ship company based in Mississauga, Ontario and famous for its expedition cruises in the Canadian Arctic) has canceled all its sailings for the rest of the year.
And so it goes.
Of course, this ban was imposed due to the Covid 19 virus, and it may be cancelled or amended as the viral spread is slowed or halted. However, we are concerned that once cruise lines plan their itineraries with this ban in mind, changes will be difficult to accomplish if the Canadian waters suddenly open back up.
What does it all mean:
For Alaska, this issue is compounded by the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886 enacted by the 49th United States Congress on June 19, 1886. PVSA is the law requiring foreign-flagged cruise ships operating in American waters to stop, at least once per voyage, in a foreign port. That means cruise lines like Holland America, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean (all operating foreign-flagged ships) must include at least one stop in a Canadian port. Well, you see the problem. Chances are slim the cruise lines will now choose to sail to Mexico during an Alaskan voyage to satisfy that requirement!!! Perhaps the American Congress could issue a waiver, but that would take some time, wouldn’t it???
The bottom line:
This announcement has, pretty much, wiped out Alaskan and New England/Maritime cruises for another year!!! The only U.S.-flagged cruise line, American Cruise Lines, already does operate in Alaska. They have a fleet of 13 ships (but 3 of them are paddle-wheelers) and only 3 of the other 10 (the Independence Class Coastal Ships: Independence, American Spirit and American Star) fit the 100 or less passenger requirement imposed by the Canadian government to enter their waters. This ban is a big deal!!! And it comes with major economic consequences.
Hopefully, there will be good news to report before too long!!!!
Meanwhile, here are some photos to soothe the soul of both Alaskan and Canadian ports :
Newfoundland and Labrador
Corner Brook, Newfoundland
Broadway St. Skagway, Alaska (Explorer1940 – Own work CC BY-SA 4.0)
All together now!!!
Let’s wish the cruise industry well.