Alaska-bound cruises seem unaffected despite the strikes at the British Columbia ports that started on July 1. The initial fear that these labor actions would disrupt numerous cruises sailing in early July appears to have been unfounded, at least for now.
Three major ports in British Columbia service cruise ships regularly. Vancouver is the homeport for numerous vessels, and Prince Rupert and Victoria are popular as port calls.
Strikes at British Columbia Ports
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) launched a strike after months-long negotiations with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) failed to yield a new industry-wide collective agreement. The primary issues at the core of the dispute include contracting out, port automation, and the high cost of living, forcing 7,400 port workers to go on strike.
While the strikes will likely have an economic impact on the region in some manner, the cruise industry is, for now, unaffected. The ILWU has indicated that they intend to service cruise ships during the strike, bringing a sigh of relief to the cruising industry.
Robert Lewis-Manning, the CEO of the Greater Victoria Harbor Authority, offered encouraging comments during a recent radio interview. He acknowledged the uncertainty around the situation but remained hopeful about its impact on the cruise industry.
“Aside from the fact that the union has issued a strike notice, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to go on strike,” Robert Lewis-Manning started.
“The International Longshore Union is critical to everything we do at our Deep Water terminal at Ogden Point. They help berth the ship, manage logistics, both on and off the vessel and set up gangways for people to come ashore and reboard later on. We can’t do it without them.”
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Speaking of the potential impact of the strike on cruise operations, Manning added: “They care deeply about this business. My expectation is, if they do go on strike, they will not halt operations of the cruise business despite the fact that they may be on strike for cargo-related things in other ports.”
The words from the Victoria port CEO have significantly eased concerns about cruise disruptions. The Alaska cruise season is in full swing, with 23 cruise ships sailing to and from BC ports from July 3 through July 8.
Cruise Ships Sailing British Columbia Ports
Several cruise ships will be docking at various British Columbia ports this week.
On Monday, July 3, Disney Wonder will be in Vancouver. Following the Disney cruise ship is Crown Princess on July 4, ms Volendam and Norwegian Spirit on July 5, Silver Whisper on July 6, and Celebrity Millennium and Queen Elizabeth on July 7. The week concludes with Majestic Princess and ms Koningsdam on July 8.
Carnival Miracle and Ruby Princess are arriving on July 3, and Insignia is due on July 7.
Carnival Spirit and Crown Princess kick off the week on July 3, followed by Carnival Luminosa on July 5. Celebrity Solstice and Ovation Of The Seas dock on July 6. On July 7, ms Eurodam, Norwegian Bliss, and Royal Princess will be in port. The week ends with Discovery Princess, ms Westerdam, and Norwegian Encore on July 8.
Impact on Cruises
A significant disruption at these ports could have potentially caused logistical nightmares, delayed journeys, and upset thousands of passengers. However, if cruise ships sailing from US ports would not have been able to make their calls to Canada at least once during their cruise, even more problems arise.
The Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) of 1886 mandates that any passenger ship that isn’t built in the U.S. cannot transport passengers directly between two U.S. ports.
Therefore, these vessels must stop at a foreign port when moving between two U.S. ports. This is one of the main reasons many cruises to Alaska from the U.S. stop at a Canadian port.
The situation remains fluid for now, and any change could potentially impact future cruise operations, posing problems for Alaska-bound vessels. The cruise industry is monitoring the situation closely with a swift resolution to the labor dispute the best possible outcome.