The AIDAdiva cruise ship, on a 10-day trip from New York to Montreal, arrives in Halifax on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

The cruise-ship season in Canada is all but sunk as Ottawa extends its ban on large ships in Canadian waters until the end of October in an attempt to contain COVID-19.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Thursday passenger ships with overnight accommodations for more than 100 people — including both passengers and crew — can’t operate in Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31.

The move extends and expands an order issued in mid-March that barred ships with more than 500 passengers from Canadian waters until July.

Ships with more than 12 passengers can’t go to the Arctic until at least Oct. 31, for fear that one might carry COVID-19 to a remote northern community.

Other than that, after July 1, provincial and regional health officials will decide when and where smaller vessels can operate.

“Keeping Canadians and transportation workers safe continues to be my top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Garneau said.

Garneau said he also understands this will create a significant economic hardship for Canada’s tourism industry. He indicated the federal tourism department is working on a plan to help.

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports. A 2016 study found the cruise industry was large and growing, contributing more than $3 billion to Canada’s economy, including nearly $1.4 billion in direct spending by cruise lines and their passengers. More than 23,000 Canadians were directly or indirectly employed because of cruise ships.

British Columbia, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces benefit the most.

“The human impact is dramatic, there’s no question about it,” said Charlottetown Harbour Authority CEO Mike Cochrane. “To see it all come to a halt, it’s a very sad day for us.”

The cruise industry’s direct and indirect economic impact to Prince Edward Island topped $52 million last year, he said. Until the pandemic hit, projections for the season — late April to late October in PEI — hovered around $60 million.

“You look at mom-and-pop shops, restaurants, tour bus operators, taxis, Green Gables — it reaches everywhere,” Cochrane said.

He and other officials linked to the cruise industry said they understood that the health and safety of local residents comes first. “There’s no road map for this pandemic, so all you can really do is roll up your sleeves and put your heart into rebuilding it,” Cochrane said.

Home ports — where vessels are based — such as Vancouver or Quebec City stir up even more economic activity than ports of call as cruise lines stock up on fuel, food, alcohol, bedding and other supplies.

Industrial sectors feel the ripple effects of the virus too. A massive federally owned dry dock just west of Victoria typically supplements its work for the Royal Canadian Navy with cruise ship contracts.

“When one of those cruise ships is getting refit, there can be up to 800 people working intensely for several weeks,” said Barry Penner, a spokesman for Cruise Lines International Association — North West and Canada.

The refurbishments can include everything from new carpets to fresh bathroom fixtures, cabinetry, sonar, telecommunications and wastewater treatment systems, providing business to regional companies.

Cruise ships were one of the first- and worst-hit sectors from COVID-19 with hundreds of passengers falling ill on ships as they sailed in various parts of the world. Transport Canada monitored hundreds of ships with Canadians on board as they battled outbreaks, or weren’t allowed to dock in planned ports as countries closed to foreign tourists to keep COVID-19 out.

Several hundred Canadians were flown back to Canada and quarantined in Trenton, Ont., and Cornwall, Ont. after disembarking ships with outbreaks on them that docked in Japan and California. At least a dozen passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship were diagnosed with COVID-19 after being quarantined in Trenton. One Canadian passenger who had been on board the Diamond Princess died in Japan in March after being hospitalized with COVID-19.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusTourism

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Undercover operation exposes prominent human trafficking problem in Greater Victoria

VicPD’s Operation No More took place in mid-June at a local hotel

VicPD investigating possible hate crime on BC Transit bus

A young Black man was randomly struck by a Caucasian man who he did not know

Tofino and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation release joint statement welcoming ‘respectful’ tourists

“We have adapted to the new landscape and are very eager to welcome you back.”

Man in crisis with weapon taken into custody by VicPD

The man was taken into custody, then transported to hospital for evaluation

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

Pedestrian injured in hit-and-run on Gabriola Island, suspected impaired driver arrested

Gabriola Island RCMP made arrest soon after Sunday night incident

Gov. General honours Canadians for bravery, volunteer service

Five categories of winners presented on Canada Day

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

‘A little bit scary for everybody’: Air passengers wary as new rules take effect

Masks or face coverings have been mandatory on flights since April 20

River centre says heavy rains could bring flooding to central, northeastern B.C.

Water levels are already unusually high and river banks can be extremely unstable

Most Read