Canada reopens its ports to cruise ships

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Four Holland America Line ships will sail to Alaska this summer from homeport Vancouver, British Columbia, now that cruise ships are permitted to operate again from Canadian ports after a two-year pause. [Image: Holland America Line]

In an announcement welcomed by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Transport Canada has announced that cruising will return to Canadian waters in the first week of April.

“The ability to welcome cruise ships back to our waters is possible because Canadians have stepped up, rolled up their sleeves, gotten vaccinated, and followed public health measures,” says Transport Canada. “The industry has made the safe return of cruise ships to Canadian waters possible by committing to a comprehensive set of enhanced safety protocols on board, including vaccinations, enhanced hygiene practices, and passenger screening … based on the best available science.”

“The first cruise ship since 2019 is scheduled to call in Victoria, B.C., on April 6 before transiting to Vancouver, B.C.,” says CLIA, adding that cruise lines are preparing for a full schedule of sailings this year from April to November, with itineraries that will include ports and destinations on both Canadian coasts.

According to CLIA, the health and safety protocols established for Canadian cruises include full vaccination of passengers and crew members as eligible under Canadian health regulations and proof of a negative COVID-19 test result prior to embarkation (confirmed with either a PCR test three days prior to boarding or an antigen test one day prior to boarding). CLIA will continue to engage with Transport Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and regional agencies to review protocols as the public health situation evolves.

“The completion of this guidance by Transport Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, Public Health Agency of Canada, and port officials will allow us to sail our Alaska and Canada/New England seasons as planned,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line. “This is a positive step for everyone who loves to travel to these regions and for all of the businesses in Canada that we support through tourism.

“Many of the protocols Canada is applying were successfully implemented in the United States after the restart of cruising, and they are working well,” Antorcha added. “We are well-positioned to follow Canada’s direction and continue delivering memorable cruise vacations that include Canadian ports.”

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