Canada Confirms Cruise Restart and Details Protocols

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After two years, the road is finally clear for cruise ships to call at and sail from Canadian ports. Transport Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, Public Health Agency of Canada, and port officials finally reached an agreement that opens up the country’s cruise industry with guidelines that largely mirror those implemented internationally.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) in Canada stated it welcomes the planned resumption of cruises. Earlier today, Holland America Line called the move a positive step in the right direction. The first cruise ship since 2019 is scheduled to call in Victoria, British Columbia, on April 6, 2022.

Canada Releases Health Guidelines For Cruises

Through Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, Transport Canada released the long-awaited new health and safety guidelines for cruise ships today, March 7. 

As expected, the measures introduced by Transport Canada essentially mirror those implemented in the United States by the CDC. However, there are some exceptions. Guests wanting to take a cruise that departs from a Canadian port, or one that has a Canadian port as a port of call included, will need to take a PCR test within 72 hours before they board. 

Cruise Ship in Vancouver, Canada
Photo Credit: Rigucci / Shutterstock

An antigen test is also accepted; however, only if it was taken within one day of boarding. That means that the current standard that is in place in the US, 48-hours before boarding, is not valid for cruises that call in Canadian ports. 

All guests must be fully vaccinated before sailing, although some groups may be able to get an exemption if they comply with one of the following: 

  • Children under 12 (note, many cruise lines require vaccination for children five and up);
  • Proof of a Medical contraindication; or
  • Religious belief (only for those with a right of entry to Canada, including Canadians and those boarding in Canada).

Cruise ship operators will inspect proof of vaccination and monitor and report test results. No guest or crew will be allowed off a cruise ship unless they meet the requirements, which the Canada Border Services Agency will enforce.

Guests disembarking a cruise ship in Canada must take a COVID-19 PCR test within 72-hours before arriving in Canada or take an antigen test within one day of the scheduled arrival. 

CLIA said it would continue to engage with Transport Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and regional agencies to review protocols as the situation evolves.

CLIA Reacts To Canadian Health Measures

CLIA in Canada reacted positively to the new Transport Canada health measures that make cruising possible again.

“With today’s announcement, cruise lines are preparing for a full schedule of sailings this year from April to November, with itineraries that will include ports and destinations on both Canadian coasts. Many months of work have led to this announcement by Transport Canada, and we are delighted to be coming back.”

“When cruise resumes in April, CLIA member cruise lines will be sailing with COVID-19 protocols that span the entirety of the cruise experience and provide some of the highest levels of prevention, detection, and mitigation compared to virtually any other tourism setting.”

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)

The first cruise ship to sail to a Canadian port will be Caribbean Princess when she arrives in Victoria, BC, a popular cruise port on Vancouver Island. Her arrival kicks off a season of sailings to Alaska and the Canadian east coast, including no less than six ships from Holland America Line, which reacted to the news earlier today through President Gus Antorcha: 

“This is a positive step for everyone who loves to travel to these regions and for all of the businesses in Canada that we support through tourism.

The cruise industry is a vital artery for Canada’s economy. Before the pandemic, it supported approximately 30,000 Canadian jobs. It generated an estimated CA $4.3 billion in total economic benefits, including CA $1.9 billion in direct spending and CA $1.44 billion in wages and salaries each year.

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