Canada ban ends hopes for big ships in Alaska, New England

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The Norwegian Joy alongside the Canada Place terminal in Vancouver.
The Norwegian Joy alongside the Canada Place terminal in Vancouver. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

Canada's government will prohibit cruise ships with more than 100 passengers from calling at its ports until at least Oct. 31, effectively killing off any hope for Alaska cruise season for large ship lines as well as the Canada/New England cruise season.

The newest restrictions are also more severe than Canada's previous cruise ban, which restricted ships that carried 500 or more passengers. 

The decision impacts Alaska cruises from Seattle that have to call in Victoria, British Columbia, in accordance with U.S. cabotage laws requiring foreign-flagged ships sailing from U.S. ports to call in a foreign port before returning to the U.S.

Small-ship lines that operate in Alaska with U.S.-flagged ships, such as Lindblad Expeditions, Alaska Dream Cruises, Uncruise Adventures and American Cruise Lines, will not be impacted.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau announced the extension on Friday during his daily briefing, saying that "Covid-19 is still a very serious threat."

The Alaska cruise season was already in question after Princess Cruises and Holland America Line canceled their 2020 Alaska seasons. Cruising is the state's largest source of tourism, bringing in a little more than half of Alaska's visitors.

More than 140 cruise ships from 10 countries docked in Canada last year, Canada said, bringing at least 2 million travelers to the country. The country also deferred all cruise vessel calls in the Canadian Arctic for the entire cruise season this year, citing the limited public health capacity in Canada's northern communities.

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