(Greater Victoria Harbour Authority)

Forget cruise control—it’s full speed ahead for Greater Victoria’s cruise industry, as local officials gear up to welcome the first ship to call to a Canadian port in two years.

On April 6th, Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess is set to anchor at the Breakwater District’s cruise terminal—the first ship of the year to usher in thousands of passengers.

In fact, Victoria’s first cruise season since 2019 will see an estimated 358 ship calls and around 780,000 passengers over a seven-month span, the not-for-profit Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) says.

That will likely surpass pre-pandemic figures, according to GVHA data. The preceding season, which wrapped up in October 2019, welcomed 709,042 passengers on a total of 257 ship calls.

But it’s a long-awaited return that comes amidst new vaccination requirements from the federal government. 

As of March 7th, people must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to board ships entering Canada. It’s a new regulation put in place by Transport Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The feds said last week that passengers must take a COVID-19 molecular test at least 72 hours prior to boarding, or take an antigen test within one day of boarding. More testing is then required before arriving in Canada.

GVHA CEO Ian Robertson says his team worked hard to collaborate with the government and industry “to ensure that when ships return to Canada, and to Victoria, we will be ready to safely welcome passengers and crew.”

“I look forward to being on the pier when that first ship arrives, and the first cruise passengers in two years disembark the ship to explore our beautiful city,” said Robertson. 

On the ground, the GVHA says an operations team is working with partners “to ensure the safe movement of passengers upon arrival, both on the terminal and in the community.” It says planned measures will always meet both federal and provincial health requirements.

For the full 2022 cruise schedule, visit the GVHA’s website.

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