The Government of Canada has announced a one-year ban on cruise vessels sailing in Canadian waters effective until Feb. 28, 2022, impacting Alaska cruise itineraries.
As the country continues to monitor the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the marine and tourism sectors, Canada’s Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, announced two new Interim Orders which will significantly impact the cruise sector.
The details of the new ruling will prohibit all adventure-seeking pleasure craft from entering Arctic waters, as well as prohibit passenger vessels carrying more than 12 people from entering Arctic coastal waters, including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, and the Labrador Coast. Additionally cruise vessels carrying more than 100 people will be prohibited from operating in Canadian waters. There is no national ban for smaller cruise ships certified to carry 100 or fewer people.
“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 Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport, in a press release statement. “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.”
With these prohibitions in place, Canadian public health authorities will continue to focus on the vaccine rollout and the threat of new COVID-19 variants. 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.
U.S. flagged cruise ships, such as those operated by UnCruise Adventures and American Cruise Lines, will continue their Alaska sailings as scheduled.
UnCruise will resume operations in May 2021 with 7-14 night itineraries offered into September. As a U.S. flagged and Alaska-owned small boat operator offering vessels with less than 100 passengers and crew, the company does not fall under the ban. Alaska sailings will proceed under the company’s COVID safety framework implemented in 2020 and their new triple test process. This three-test combination includes a required PCR test 72 hours prior to arrival in Alaska, a follow-up antigen (rapid) test on check-in with an UnCruise Adventures representative, and a second antigen test upon embarkation. This provides a high degree of certainty that people will not be exposed to Covid-19 while aboard. The small ships do not require port stops and are foregoing visits to small cultural communities during the 2021 sailing season.
UnCruise Adventures will offer a discount of $500 off their current bookings for cruisers who have had their 2021 cruise canceled on larger ships, with proof of their cruise cancellation. The offer is combinable with UnCruise’s current offerings of $600 per cabin for a combined savings of $1100 per cabin.
“We were already seeing an uptick of bookings for 2021, but with the new big ship ban our phones have been busy with travelers looking for other Alaska cruise options,” said Dan Blanchard, CEO, UnCruise Adventures, in a press release statement. “We want people to get out into the wilderness and support the many people in Alaska that depend on travel for their livelihood. Due to the demand, we are offering a special of $500 off of our listed bookings for cruisers who’ve had their bookings canceled on bigger ships.”
American Cruise Lines has also confirmed that its three Alaska itineraries and five New England itineraries will be running as scheduled in 2021.
“American Cruise Lines has been working closely with communities in Alaska and New England and looks forward to safely resuming small ship cruises this year,” said Charles B. Robertson, President & CEO of American Cruise Lines, in a press release statement. “American Cruise Lines operates only U.S. flag ships on itineraries with domestic ports of call and is planning to operate as scheduled. We are proud of our American roots and together with other U.S. cruise operators, we look forward to contributing to the local economies that are impacted so significantly by the Canadian order.”
American Cruise Lines has 13 small ships that accommodate fewer than 190 passengers and are 100% are U.S.-built, crewed, flagged and owned.
For more information on Canada’s cruise ban click here. For more information on UnCruise Adventures itineraries visit uncruise.com and for more on American Cruise Lines itineraries visit americancruiselines.com.