OTTAWA — Canada’s cruise ship ban, which was set to expire on Feb. 28, will remain in effect for another year. The news was announced today, Feb. 4, by Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra, who confirmed two new Interim Orders that prohibit pleasure craft in Canadian Arctic waters as well as cruise vessels in all Canadian waters until Feb. 28, 2022. This means the following:
Adventure-seeking pleasure craft are still prohibited from entering Arctic waters.
Passenger vessels carrying more than 12 people are still prohibited from entering Arctic coastal waters, including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, and the Labrador Coast.
Cruise vessels carrying 100 or more people are still prohibited from operating in Canadian waters.
Those who do not comply with the pleasure craft prohibition could be subject to penalties: $5,000 per day for individuals and $25,000per day for groups or corporations. Those who do not comply with the passenger vessel prohibition could be liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to $1 million or to imprisonment for a term of up to 18 months, or to both.
While there is no national ban for smaller cruise ships certified to carry 100 or fewer people, they must still follow provincial, territorial, local and regional health authority protocols for timeliness and processes around their operations.
According to Transport Canada, cruise vessels in Canadian waters pose a risk to Canada’s healthcare systems, and that the Government of Canada will continue to evaluate the situation and make changes as necessary to ensure the health and safety of Canadians. Should the COVID-19 pandemic sufficiently improve to allow the resumption of cruise activities, Alghabra has the ability to rescind the Interim Orders.
“As Canadians continue to do their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19, our government continues to work hard to ensure Canada’s transportation system remains safe,” said Alghabra Temporary prohibitions to cruise vessels and pleasure craft are essential to continue to protect the most vulnerable among our communities and avoid overwhelming our health care systems. This is the right and responsible thing to do.”
The cruise ship ban was last extended in October 2020, just one day before the CDC lifted its longstanding No Sail order that applied to cruise ship operations in U.S. waters. In its place, the CDC implemented a new Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, a 40-page set of guidelines for cruise lines to follow as they work towards the resumption of operations.
Today’s latest extension is yet another blow to the Canadian travel industry, which is still reeling from last week’s announcement by the federal government about the mass suspension of winter sun flights through April 30.