The latest ruling by the Canadian Government, which bans cruise vessels carrying 100 or more people from entering Canada’s waters until 28 February 2022, puts a real spanner in the works for any North American cruise operator planning to head to the likes of Alaska (or back the other way).
Indeed, according to The Points Guy website, it’s the main reason why one-ship cruise operator Adventure Canada, which organises expedition sailings to the Canadian Arctic, has been forced to cancel all of its sailings for the rest of the year.
“Due to the news of this continued ban, as well as the ongoing uncertainty around international and domestic cruise travel, Adventure Canada has made the difficult but necessary decision to cancel our entire 2021 sailing season,” Adventure Canada CEO Cedar Swan told The Points Guy.
For North American cruise ships with scheduled sailings to Alaska – including Princess Cruises, Holland America and Royal Caribbean – these itineraries will also need to be cancelled. As foreign-flagged cruise ships are not legally allowed to cruise in American waters without stopping at least once at a foreign port on each voyage (aka the ‘Passenger Vessel Services Act’), they will not be able to sail without stopping in Canada, and so they can no longer sail these routes at all.
But, hang on, I hear you ask, surely cruise liners that operate predominantly between US states are not ‘foreign-flagged cruise ships’, and so shouldn’t need to stopover in Canada? Unfortunately, it’s a bit more complicated that: due to a US law that stipulates that ships registered domestically must be built in the country, most of the large cruise liners operating in the US are not registered there – much of the expertise and capacity for assembling contemporary cruise ships lies in European shipyards.
CLIA hopes for the regulation to be altered
As such, the impact of the new Canadian regulation on the already struggling cruise industry is significant. Forbes noted as much in an article it suggestively titled ‘Canada just killed this year’s Alaska cruise season’, and the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) also condemned the move: “Two years without cruising in Canada will have potentially irreversible consequences for families throughout the country,” it said in a statement, referencing the many jobs that would be lost as a result. “We stand ready to work with Canadian health and transportation officials to operationalise a path forward.”
ITIJ notes that it won’t just be the cruise industry that suffers as a result of the new Canadian regulation. As more than half of all visitors that travel to Alaska do so by cruise ship, according to Alaska’s Resource Development Council website, the knock-on effect on local hotels, restaurants, and other tourism industries will also be palpable.