Canada is to lift its ban on cruise ships on 1st November this year.
However, this will come after the end of Alaska’s 2021 cruise season, enabling cruise ships to sail from the British Columbia ports of Vancouver and Victoria to Alaska next year.
“As Canadians have done their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19, our government continues to work hard to safely restart our economy and build back better. We will welcome cruise ships — an important part of our tourism sector — back in Canadian waters for the 2022 season,” Canadian Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra (pictured), said in a statement.
Until this year, under the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA), large cruise ships registered overseas were required to stop in Canada while sailing from Seattle to Alaska to comply with federal law.
However, after Canada extended its cruise ship ban through the 2021 summer cruise season, the US Congress granted a temporary waiver to allow cruise ships to sail directly between two US ports.
PVSA requires passenger ships sailing between domestic ports to be US-built, owned and crewed.
Meanwhile US Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined state leaders and community members in Ketchikan, Alaska on 9th July to welcome the first large cruise ship to Alaska since the 2019 season.
Royal Caribbean’s ’Serenade of the Seas’ arrived in Ketchikan to serve as the state’s test cruise—with volunteer passengers—to demonstrate to the CDC the implementation of COVID-19 mitigation protocols.
“I am pleased to welcome the first large cruise ship of the 2021 season. Tourism is the lifeblood for hundreds of Alaska small businesses and thousands of employees. I’ve been committed to help bring tourism back for the 2021 season and keep Alaskans afloat through the hardships created by the pandemic.
“It was an all-hands-on-deck effort to find a solution to the 2021 cruise ship season and bring a much-needed economic boost to our communities. I want to thank the other members of the delegation for working with me to get my legislation, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act (ATRA), across the finish line.
“This legislation made it possible to begin to bring cruise ships back to Alaska – so that our communities can have a productive tourist season. Today marks an important step toward Alaska’s road to economic recovery from the pandemic.”
In 2019, Alaska hosted over 1.3 mill cruise ship visitors. The Alaskan tourism industry typically generates more than $214 mill in state and municipal revenue, more than $1.4 bill in payroll, and $2.2 bill in visitor spending—all of which saw a significant decline during the pandemic.
Senator Murkowski’s ATRA legislation was signed into law on 24th May, 2021, to provide a temporary fix under the PVSA, paving the way for cruise ships to resume operations and transport passengers between the US States of Washington and Alaska.
Due to the prohibition on passenger vessels transiting through Canadian waters, large cruise ships sailing to Alaska would not have been able to go to Alaska this summer as the PVSA requires a stop in a foreign country.