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Canada cancels remainder of 2020 cruise season over Coronavirus concerns

Canada has announced the extension until October of a ban on cruise ships with a passenger capacity greater than 100, effectively cancelling the remainder of its cruise season.

The order against any 100-passenger-plus cruise ship was announced by Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau. It includes an exemption for US-flagged cruise ships, but the vast majority of the mainstream cruise fleet operates under foreign flags of convenience.

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This means that all major cruise lines will not be able to operate Alaskan cruises for the summer, and will also prevent the late summer and early autumn fall foliage sailings in Canada and New England, as well as the Arctic.

Passenger vessels with the capacity to carry more than 12 passengers continue to be prohibited from entering Arctic coastal waters (including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik and the Labrador Coast) until October 31st, 2020.

The extension of the measures end any hope for a shorter Alaska season from Vancouver and Seattle, as well as removing the possibility of Pacific Coastal or repositioning voyages.

It also means that any transatlantic voyages scheduled to terminate on ports on Canada’s East Coast will have to be amended, and puts an end to any cruises expecting to visit ports in Canada’s Maritime provinces and Quebec.

“Our Government is committed to protecting Canadians, particularly during these challenging times,” said Garneau. “It is for that reason I am announcing updated measures for cruise ships and other passenger vessels in Canada, which includes prohibiting larger cruise ships from operating in Canadian waters until October 31st, 2020.”

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“Our Government continues to work with other levels of government, transportation industry stakeholders, and Indigenous peoples to re-examine measures and to ensure Canada’s transportation system remains safe and secure during this time. We are all in this together,” he added.

As of July 1st, 2020, all other passenger vessels must follow provincial, territorial, local and regional health authority requirements for timelines and processes to resume operations, the government said.

Also from July 1st, passenger vessels that meet requirements will be allowed to operate in inland rivers and lakes in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon. This could see some operators, like Vancouver Island-based Maple Leaf Adventures, resume limited cruising operations prior to the end of the season.

Canada joins a growing list of cruise destinations that have extended bans on cruise operations due to fears over the spread of Coronavirus.

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