After Canada cracked down on entry requirements for international travelers last week—arrivals from abroad now need to furnish three COVID tests and submit to a hotel quarantine—our neighbor to the north is now cracking down on cruising as well amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Transport Canada, the Canadian government’s transportation department, announced on February 4, that most cruising in Canadian waters is prohibited until February 28, 2022—extending for another year a ban on cruising that was put into place in spring 2020.
The ban applies to vessels carrying more than 12 passengers operating in Arctic coastal waters and to cruise vessels with more than 100 passengers operating in Canadian waters, which means some smaller ships can sail.
But for any ships carrying more than 100 passengers, the move puts any hopes of sailing in Canada in 2021 on hold, including those who had plans to sail up to Alaska this year.
Why is that? Well, according to maritime law (specifically a rule called the Jones Act), foreign-flagged ships can only sail in U.S. waters if they stop in at least one foreign port to avoid what would otherwise constitute the transportation of passengers between two U.S. ports—which is not allowed, according to the Jones Act. The majority of larger cruise lines operate foreign-flagged ships. So, in order to be able to sail in Alaska, they need to also make port stops in Canada.
Thus, if Canada is closed to sailings, Alaska is too for many cruise ships. Some smaller operators and U.S.-flagged ships may be able to continue with the 2021 season, however.
The cruise ban could be rescinded “should the COVID-19 pandemic sufficiently improve to allow the resumption of these activities,” according to Transport Canada.
Cruise lines that don’t comply with the Canadian order could face up to $25,000 in penalties per day for a total of up to $1 million in fines or a jail term of up to 18 months, or both.