Ongoing strikes in Vancouver are putting increased pressure on cruise ship operations from the Canadian port. The Canadian Merchant Service Guild strike has already caused one cruise ship to suffer a 20-hour delay this week, and more disruptions are expected if the strike is not lifted soon.
The Port of Vancouver is an important stopover point for cruise ships sailing to Alaska and a homeport for several cruise ships. Besides that, the port also functions as the gateway to Asian destinations for cargo ships. As it stands, the strike is causing increased congestion to the lack of tugs operating.
Canadian Chamber of Commerce Urges Workers to End Strike
The Alaskan cruise season is still in full swing, and ships will continue to operate through September and early October. However, several cruise ships risk having itineraries affected due to ongoing strikes at the Port of Vancouver in British Columbia.
Operations of Seaspan tugs and barges have ceased, which are needed throughout the port. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is now urging the Canadian Merchant Service Guild to resume work as soon as possible to minimize the damage to companies looking to use the port and the port’s vital position in international trade.
“We encourage the parties to urgently return to the bargaining table and find sustainable solutions,” stated the Chamber’s President, Robert Lewis-Manning.
“Canada’s supply chain cannot afford additional congestion that negatively impacts Canadian businesses and results in increased impacts to local coastal communities, especially from ships at anchor awaiting to load at terminals. This is why recent efforts by the Government of Canada to improve supply chain resilience and sustainability are integral and supported by the Chamber,” Lewis-Manning added.
The chamber also urges the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to enable ships to use the port safely; this includes at least thirteen cruise ships that have a homeport call scheduled in the upcoming seven days.
Will Cruise Ships be Impacted by Strikes?
While most cruise ships do not need tugs during their homeport calls, they make significant use of barges to supply the ships with fuel and more. Not being able to use the port facilities could even mean that ships see delays or have to divert to other ports such as Seattle.
In the coming week, thirteen ships have calls scheduled to the Port of Vancouver. One is a port call, Norwegian Spirit. At the same time, all others have homeport calls scheduled, during which essential goods are loaded onboard, including bunkering fuel, and passengers embark and disembark the ships.
With the workers on strike and few solutions available to make a swift end to the strikes, guests sailing onboard ships sailing from Vancouver this week will need to be ready for possible delays and changes to itineraries.
Ships sailing from Vancouver this week include Celebrity Millennium sailing a 7-Night Alaska Northbound Glacier today, September 2, Royal Princess and MS Koningsdam on 7-night cruises tomorrow, and Celebrity Eclipse, MS Noordam, and Serenade Of The Seas on Sunday, September 4.
Next week, Disney Wonder, Norwegian Jewel, Seabourn Odyssey, Seven Seas Mariner, ms Zuiderdam, and Radiance Of The Seas are also scheduled for homeport calls to Vancouver.
This week already saw delays for Celebrity Eclipse. The ship could not leave the embarkation port due to a fuel barge not moving away. The cruise ship was able to get underway and depart Vancouver at approximately 1 PM on Monday, rather than the scheduled departure time of 4:30 PM on Sunday, August 28.
Not all ships have been affected by the strikes so far. At the same time that Celebrity Eclipse was delayed, Royal Caribbean International’s Serenade of the Seas and Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam bot sailed on schedule.