North American cruise shipping took another beating after Canada extended its cruise shipping ban until 28 February 2022
Interim orders announced by Canada’s ministry for transport (Transport Canada) mean passenger vessels carrying more than 12 people are prohibited from entering Arctic coastal waters, including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, and the Labrador Coast. In addition, cruise vessels carrying more than 100 people are also prohibited from operating in Canadian waters.
While the order affects Canada, the extension of the ban is likely to affect Alaska and Seattle in the United States through a combination of geographical proximity and US maritime rules.
The Passenger Vessel Services Act requires that ships not flying the United States flag, and primarily America-operated, stop at a foreign port between US ports, which in this case includes Canadian ports.
Over the last two decades Seattle’s cruise industry has grown, especially as a departure point for cruises to Alaska. The extension of Canada’s ‘no-sail’ order is another blow to Seattle’s US$7.8Bn tourism industry, of which cruise shipping rakes in US$900M.
According to the Port of Seattle, which is also the US west coast’s largest cruise ship home port, cruise shipping supports 5,000 people in the region and each homeported vessel brings in over US$4M to the regional economy, US$14.5M in statewide taxes, and generates nearly a billion dollars in business activity over the whole season.
Responding to the Canadian Government’s decision, the Port of Seattle said “This impacts our homeported cruises which would stop at a Canadian port, per the Passenger Vessel Services Act, on their Alaska itineraries.”
Transport Canada said new prohibitions will allow public health authorities to continue focusing on “the most pressing issues, including the vaccine rollout and new Covid-19 variants.”
Canada’s Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra said “Temporary prohibitions to cruise vessels and pleasure craft are essential to continue to protect the most vulnerable among our communities and avoid overwhelming our healthcare systems. This is the right and responsible thing to do.”
“Cruise vessels in Canadian waters pose a risk to our healthcare systems. The Government of Canada will continue to evaluate the situation and make changes as necessary to ensure the health and safety of all Canadians. Should the Covid-19 pandemic sufficiently improve to allow the resumption of these activities, the Minister of Transport has the ability to rescind the Interim Orders” said Transport Canada.
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