The Canadian government has released new health guidelines for cruises to Canada, enabling cruise lines such as Holland America Line to operate as planned this summer and fall.
Transport Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, Public Health Agency of Canada, and port officials reached an agreement on what procedures will be implemented this week. The guidelines largely mirror those in the US and are in place for cruises that depart from or call on Canadian ports.
Canada Establishes New Health Guidelines
For the first time in two years, cruise ships are welcome once again in Canada. The country had banned all cruise ships from Canadian ports during the pandemic. Despite the cruise ban ending on November 1, 2021, the lack of health guidelines effectively prolonged that ban.
Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra briefed the press on the new guidelines on March 7, which have also been published on the Canadian government’s transport website. Anyone wanting to take a cruise that departs in, or calls at, a Canadian port, will need to take a PCR test within 72 hours before they board or an antigen test within one day of boarding.
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.
Cruise Ships Welcome Again After Two Year Break
Holland America Line reacted positively to the new measures, which it says largely mirror those established in the United States and have proven to be working well.
Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line: “The completion of this guidance by Transport Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, Public Health Agency of Canada, and port officials will allow us to sail our Alaska and Canada/New England seasons as planned. 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.
“Many of the protocols Canada is applying were successfully implemented in the United States after the restart of cruising, and they are working well. We are well-positioned to follow Canada’s direction and continue delivering memorable cruise vacations that include Canadian ports.”
Each year, the cruise line has a large presence in Canada, both for cruises on the east coast, as well as the west coast.
Holland America Heads North
The Seattle-based cruise line says it plans to operate several ships in Canada in the coming months, both on the east coast, exploring Alaska, and the west coast, exploring New Brunswick, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland.
“As people return to travel this summer, we know some will choose to stay a little closer to home,” Antorcha said. “Our Alaska land and sea packages and our Canada/New England sailings are great ways to resume exploring the world without traveling a great distance.”
Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, and Zuiderdam will be operating from Vancouver and between Vancouver and Whittier, Alaska, this summer. Cruises include seven-day “Glacier Discovery Northbound,” “Glacier Discovery Southbound,” and “Alaska Inside Passage” itineraries with calls to Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway.
On the Canada and New England cruises, Nieuw Statendam and Zaandam sail between Montreal and Quebec City, Canada, and Boston, Massachusetts. Itineraries range from six to 24 days and call at 13 Canadian ports in Quebec, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Labrador, and Prince Edward Island.
The return to Canada is good news for those Canadians working in the local cruise industry who have been out of work for two years now. It will be good news as well for those who have been waiting for their Alaska or New England cruises, which were all canceled last year, and the year before.