As Canada’s vaccination program continues to see impressive numbers and COVID-19 active case numbers continue to fall, we are seeing changes to the country’s ban on cruise ships.
In a statement today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, announced cruise ships will be able to enter Canadian waters earlier than previously expected.
Starting in November, cruise ships will be able to operate and dock in Canada once again, pending operators will be able to fully comply with public health requirements.
In March 2020, in a response to the threat of COVID-19, Transport Canada announced their initial ban on cruise ships with more than 500 passengers from entering the country. The ban has been extended several times since.
In February 2021, the Government of Canada announced a one-year ban for cruise ships until February 28th, 2022.
This decision was met with concern across British Columbia, particularly by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) who advocated for the earlier return of cruise ships.
Although the regulations were put in place in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the GVHA emphasized the impact this could have on the cruise ship industry which contributes more than $130 million to the Greater Victoria economy and is responsible for more than 800 jobs.
In addition, American lawmakers unanimously approved a bill allowing Alaska-bound cruise ships to skip BC ports, such as Victoria back in May. This bill and the possibility of it becoming a permanent decision was met with more concern as to how it could impact the Victoria tourism industry even further.
With the announcement of an earlier return of cruise ships, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) is optimistic of the future. They say this announcement comes in time to properly prepare for the full resumption of cruise ships in Canada in time to welcome the 2022 cruise season.
The GVHA says this announcement also allows plans for short and long-term capital infrastructure needs.
Transport Canada has stated they will continue to work with the Public Health Agency of Canada, other levels of government, the United States government, transportation industry stakeholders, Indigenous Peoples, and Arctic communities to help ensure Canadians and Canada’s transportation system remain safe and secure.
The Government of Canada continues to advise Canadians to avoid all travel on cruise ships outside the country until further notice.