This weekend is a long awaited step in the international cruising restart, as Holland America Line is set to be the first cruise line to call on Canada and return to a Canadian homeport in more than two years.
Koningsdam will visit Victoria, British Columbia, as a port of call on Saturday, April 9, before moving to the Port of Vancouver on Sunday, where the ship will be homeported for the summer Alaska season.
Cruising Is Back in Canada!
It has been 905 days since a cruise ship has called at Victoria, and officials from Holland America Line and local Canadian government representatives will be on hand to celebrate the occasion, including tourism ministers and port authority officials.
“We are thrilled to be the first cruise line back into Canada after such a long absence, and we look forward to celebrating a great moment for everyone who loves to travel and for those in Canada and Alaska whose livelihoods depend on tourism,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line.
During the abbreviated 2021 Alaska cruise season, which did not begin until July due to the pandemic shutdown, cruise ships were banned in Canada.
Instead, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act temporarily allowed cruises departing from U.S. homeports to visit only U.S. ports of call, instead of being required to visit a foreign port during the voyage.
In early March 2022, Canadian authorities released health guidelines for cruise ships, which are largely similar to the health and safety protocols required by other countries. This permitted cruise lines to prepare for calls and homeports in the country, bringing cruising back to the Great White North.
First Ship of Many
The Pinnacle-class Koningsdam, which can host 2,650 passengers at double occupancy, now has the honor of being the first ship with passengers to call on Canada since the industry-wide shutdown began in March 2020.
That honor was to have belonged to Caribbean Princess from Princess Cruises, which was originally scheduled to dock in Vancouver on April 7. That ship’s sailing was shortened and passengers were instead debarked in San Francisco on April 3 to prepare the ship for dry dock operations.
Koningsdam is only the first of six Holland America Line ships scheduled for Alaskan itineraries this year, with two additional ships scheduled for New England and Canada voyages.
“Holland America Line has a robust schedule of cruises that explore Canadian ports on both coasts with Alaska, Hawaii, transatlantic and Canada and New England itineraries,” said Antorcha.
The six ships will make a combined 45 calls at Victoria and bring nearly 75,000 guests to the port. A total of 76 Holland America Line cruises will begin or end at Vancouver during 2022, bringing approximately 140,000 guests back to the region for spectacular, bucket list cruising.
For Canada and New England cruising on the East Coast, two ships return in May and cruise between Boston, Massachusetts, and Quebec City or Montreal, Quebec. Together, Nieuw Statendam and Zaandam offer itineraries ranging from 7-24 days to more than 12 Canadian ports.
In total for 2022, Holland America Line will be operating 141 cruises in Canada with more than 250,000 guests visiting both coasts.
Other Cruise Lines to Return
Holland America Line ships will quickly be joined by other cruise lines as Canada and Alaska cruising restarts with spectacular vigor in the next few weeks.
Carnival Cruise Line has three ships sailing in the region during 2022, the largest ever deployment for that cruise line to Canada.
Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Cunard Line, and other large and small cruise lines all have Alaska and Canadian sailings planned in the coming months.
Furthermore, demand for Alaska is so strong, cruise lines are working with local authorities to create additional opportunities to benefit not only tourists, but also local communities. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings recently committed to a joint project with Huna Totem Corporation to develop a new terminal in Whittier, Alaska, a popular port for cruise guests.