In a long-awaited move, the government of Canada will officially be removing COVID-19-related travel restrictions as of October 1, including vaccinations, testing, quarantine, and use of the ArriveCan app or submitting health information online prior to arriving in the country.
Both cruise travel and air travel are included in this easing, which will make it much more convenient for travelers to prepare for cruise vacations that either depart from or visit Canadian ports.
Restrictions to End October 1
All of Canada’s pandemic-related travel restrictions will officially end on October 1, 2022. This will be great news for cruise travelers, who will no longer need to meet stricter requirements than compared to other regional cruise homeports and destinations.
The measures, which have been in place since the beginning of the pandemic, were never meant to be permanent, though Canada has been much more cautious in easing restrictions as other countries have removed such policies in the past few months.
“Since the start, our Government has taken the necessary steps to keep Canadians safe in the face of a global pandemic. COVID-19 border measures were always meant to be temporary and we are making adjustments based on the current situation because that’s what Canadians expect,” said Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety.
As of October 1, all travelers, regardless of Canadian or international citizenship, will no longer be required to:
- Be vaccinated
- Enter health data into the ArriveCan app
- Submit pre-cruise (or pre-arrival) test results
- Be quarantined or isolated if testing positive or exposed
- Report developing symptoms
- Wear masks on planes or trains
With respect to cruise travel, Canada is aligning its standards more with what is required from the United States in terms of onboard measures to protect passengers and crew members in case of an outbreak.
What About Cruises Before October 1?
Cruises departing from Canadian homeports or with visits planned to Canadian ports of call prior to October 1 still need to follow the required testing, vaccination, and documentation protocols.
It is unclear whether or not a cruise that departs prior to October 1 but does not arrive to the Great White North until after the restrictions are eased will require passengers to still complete the appropriate steps at the time of departure.
Guests booked on such voyages this week should contact their cruise line for further clarification to be sure they meet all necessary travel requirements and will not be denied boarding.
Precautions Still Recommended
While the formal restrictions will be removed for all travelers in just a few days, Canadian authorities are still urging caution as cold and flu season approaches.
“We expect COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses will continue to circulate over the cold months, so I encourage everyone to stay up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccination, including booster doses and exercise individual public health measures,” said Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health.
Individuals are also reminded that they should not travel if they show symptoms of COVID-19 or other communicable diseases, including fever, coughing, sore throat, or respiratory distress.
Cruise lines have similar recommendations for travelers to avoid cruising when they may have symptoms of illnesses and embarkation can be denied for travelers who are visibly ill, and cruise lines may still require their own pre-cruise health questionnaires and other documentation, regardless of sailing date, itinerary, or destinations.
Changes Always Possible
While this easing of restrictions is welcome news and continues returning the cruise travel industry to pre-pandemic guidelines, all travelers should be aware that COVID-19 is still present and may yet evolve to require additional precautions.
This could be especially true during the winter months as respiratory illnesses typically accelerate during that time, when more people are congregating together and it is easier for such diseases to spread.
Should a new variant emerge this fall or winter and be especially concerning, it is possible that different precautions could be reinstituted either by cruise destinations or cruise lines.