Cruise ships allowed to sail in Canadian waters starting Nov. 1
VICTORIA — The federal government says cruise ships will be allowed back in Canadian waters in November, but they must follow public health requirements.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the prohibition on cruise ships because of COVID-19 will be lifted Nov. 1, eliminating a ban that was in place until the end of February 2022.
In a news release Thursday, Alghabra said the $4-billion cruise industry generates about 30,000 jobs and is an important part of the country’s domestic tourism sector.
“As Canadians have done their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19, our government continues to work hard to safely restart our economy and build back better,” he said in the release.
Ian Robertson, CEO of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority said the ban lifting earlier than planned was welcome news.
“This is what we’ve been advocating for,” he said in an interview. “For government to send a positive signal that cruise would be welcome back in 2022. It’s a good day.”
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the cruise industry is an important part of the economy of south Vancouver Island.
“Our local economy has definitely taken a hit, but thanks to residents shopping local and supporting their friends and neighbours businesses, many businesses are still making it work,” she said in the federal government release.
British Columbia also wants the United States to lift legislation that allows ships travelling between Washington state and Alaska to sail past the province’s ports without stopping.
The amendment to the Passenger Vessel Services Act was a response to Canada’s ban on cruise ships through next February. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who was behind it, has said the law would only apply until Canada lifted its restrictions.
Alaska welcomed back its first cruise ship since the 2019 season on July 9, said a news release from Murkowski, who joined state leaders and community members as the Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas arrived in Ketchikan. Seventy-eight sailings are scheduled to take place in Alaska for the remainder of the 2021 season, it said.
The legislation provided a “temporary fix” under the law for cruise ships to resume sailing between Washington state and Alaska, the release said.