June 18, 2021
Vancouver, BC – While more than 500,000 passengers and crew have cruised safely since the summer of 2020 in Europe, Asia and the South Pacific as the cruise industry has gradually resumed operations, cruise ships will not be visiting Canadian ports this year.
In February, Transport Canada issued Interim Order #5 extending by 12 months the prohibition on cruise ships stopping in Canada. The cruise industry expressed its surprise at the length of the ban at that time, which was the longest in the world. We sincerely regret the impact this decision has had on the 30,000 hardworking women and men across the country who jobs depend on what was a $4.3 billion cruise industry in Canada.
Cruises to Alaska from Seattle are scheduled to begin in the 3rd week of July. Itineraries have been scheduled and marketed on the basis of not stopping in a Canadian port. The unanimous passage of the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act by the U.S. Congress last month means cruise ships will not be required to stop in a British Columbia port while sailing between Seattle and Alaska. As a result, passengers will be spending more time in Alaskan communities compared to previous years.
Working with regulators in other countries and implementing recommendations from medical experts, more than 30 ships have returned to operation. That number is expected to double by next month.
While we understand and support the Canadian government’s focus on combatting COVID-19, much has changed and been learned since March 2020. These changes include the widespread distribution of vaccines and adoption of stringent new health protocols on board cruise ships.
It will take time to prepare for the resumption of cruise in Canada, including re-establishing supply chains with local businesses such as tour operators, hotels, farmers and food suppliers, transportation, technical support providers and travel agents. It also takes time to effectively market cruise itineraries that involve stops in Canada, which are competing against other destinations where countries that have provided clearer future guidance. Accordingly, our member cruise lines are seeking a clear and timely statement that Canada does not intend to extend the current ban on cruise ships. Further, it would be helpful to align Transport Canada’s Interim Order #5 with the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s Conditional Sail Order, which is set to expire on November 1, 2021.
Meaningful engagement with all levels of government is needed to maximize benefits to Canadian communities. Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Canada Transport Canada and provincial governments need to bring forward what they believe are the appropriate health metrics and procedures that would allow the re-opening of Canadian ports to cruise ships. However, before formally adopting them, it will be important to give our members time to review and comment on the proposed metrics and procedures to ensure they are effective and appropriate.
Contact: Donna Spalding
Government Affairs & Community Relations
About Cruise Lines International Association – North West & Canada (CLIA-NWC)
Cruise Lines International Association – North West & Canada (CLIA-NWC) is a non-profit association representing major cruise lines operating in Canada and the Pacific Northwest, including Washington State, Alaska and Hawaii. CLIA-NWC is one of fifteen offices around the world that are part of Cruise Lines International Association – the world’s largest cruise industry association, representing 95% of global cruise capacity and supporting policies and practices for a safe, secure, healthy and sustainable cruise environment.
The cruise industry is regulated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), flag states and port states (e.g., Transport Canada, Canadian Coast Guard, Canadian Public Health Agency) among others. In addition, as a requirement of membership, all CLIA cruise line members must adhere to robust set of policies and practices which undergo constant review and improvement and often exceed what international, national, and regional laws require.