It’s been over two years and now Victorians will have to wait an extra few days before welcoming the first cruise ship back to local waters.
Princess Cruises has cancelled plans to dock the Caribbean Princess in BC’s capital this week, due to scheduling changes and amid COVID-19 cases onboard.
The ship, which was set to arrive this Wednesday from the United States, would have stopped at Victoria’s cruise terminal in the Breakwater District before making its way to Vancouver.
But late Friday night, Greater Victoria Harbour Authority communications director Brian Cant says staff was notified of the cancellation as Princess Cruises looks to get a head start on ship maintenance.
“This additional time will help assure the vessel is up to our highest standards in advance of the upcoming busy summer season,” a company spokesperson told Victoria Buzz.
Currently, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also lists the Princess Caribbean on its COVID-19 Cruise Ship Dashboard under “orange” status, prompting the US-based agency to investigate.
“Orange” means 0.3% or more of the ship’s total passengers and crew have suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the CDC.
Princess Cruises’ spokesperson calls the cancellation “extremely disappointing” and says the company is “making it right” for the 1,600 guests onboard.
Still, Cant notes schedule changes for the beginning and end of cruise ship season are “quite common.” Since posting a draft schedule in November, he says around 30 adjustments have been made.
“We will now shift from waiting 902 days between our last ship to call in 2019 … to 905 days,” explained Cant.
That’s because Victoria’s first cruise ship since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic will now be arriving on Saturday, April 9th, as the Holland America Koningsdam docks at 10 a.m.
“I can assure you that our team and organization are excited by the return of ships,” said Cant, noting the upcoming cruise season will see an estimated 358 ship calls and around 780,000 passengers over seven months.
On Wednesday, environmental protesters with Extinction Rebellion Victoria had planned to protest the arrival of the Princess Caribbean. However, they’ve now changed the date to Saturday to align with Koningsdam’s arrival.
“Our goal is to set up an information picket, using banners to momentarily stop vehicles leaving the parking area at the Ogden Point facility so we can distribute flyers summarizing the climate and environmental damage caused by cruise ships to visitors and tourist operators,” states a Facebook event page.