The Star Princess arrived at the Ogden Point terminal today, kicking off the 2017 cruise ship season in Victoria. (ItkasanImages / Victoria Buzz)

The 2021 cruise ship season in Victoria has officially been cancelled as Canada extends the ban until next year.

The federal government announced on Thursday that cruise ships with more than 100 people will be prohibited from entering Canadian waters until February 28th, 2022.

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.”

This is an extension of Transport Canada’s initial ban, which was put in place back in March 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns.

At that time, the federal government barred ships with more than 500 passengers. The ban has been extended multiple times since.

Essential vessels, such as ferries and water taxis, can still operate if local public health guidelines are followed.

In a statement, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, owner and operator of the Victoria Cruise Terminal at The Breakwater District, said they support the decision by Transport Canada to extend the suspension.

“For our not-for-profit organization, cruise represents more than 70% of our annual revenues, or more than $12.5 million in 2020,” said the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA).

Victorians will see the impact of lost revenues as the company will substantially reduced landscaping and beautification throughout the Inner Harbour – including the inability to plant and maintain the ‘Welcome to Victoria’ garden on the south side of the Lower Causeway.

“We also know that the extension of this suspension will create a devastating impact on the dozens of local, small businesses that are involved with cruise in Victoria,” the GVHA added.

“Over the past year, businesses that serve the cruise industry adjusted, postponed, and pivoted with the hope that cruise would return in 2021.”

 

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