The AIDAdiva cruise ship, on a 10-day trip from New York to Montreal, arrives in Halifax on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

The cruise-ship season in Canada is all but sunk as Ottawa extends its ban on large ships in Canadian waters until the end of October in an attempt to contain COVID-19.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Thursday passenger ships with overnight accommodations for more than 100 people — including both passengers and crew — can’t operate in Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31.

The move extends and expands an order issued in mid-March that barred ships with more than 500 passengers from Canadian waters until July.

Ships with more than 12 passengers can’t go to the Arctic until at least Oct. 31, for fear that one might carry COVID-19 to a remote northern community.

Other than that, after July 1, provincial and regional health officials will decide when and where smaller vessels can operate.

“Keeping Canadians and transportation workers safe continues to be my top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Garneau said.

Garneau said he also understands this will create a significant economic hardship for Canada’s tourism industry. He indicated the federal tourism department is working on a plan to help.

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports. A 2016 study found the cruise industry was large and growing, contributing more than $3 billion to Canada’s economy, including nearly $1.4 billion in direct spending by cruise lines and their passengers. More than 23,000 Canadians were directly or indirectly employed because of cruise ships.

British Columbia, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces benefit the most.

“The human impact is dramatic, there’s no question about it,” said Charlottetown Harbour Authority CEO Mike Cochrane. “To see it all come to a halt, it’s a very sad day for us.”

The cruise industry’s direct and indirect economic impact to Prince Edward Island topped $52 million last year, he said. Until the pandemic hit, projections for the season — late April to late October in PEI — hovered around $60 million.

“You look at mom-and-pop shops, restaurants, tour bus operators, taxis, Green Gables — it reaches everywhere,” Cochrane said.

He and other officials linked to the cruise industry said they understood that the health and safety of local residents comes first. “There’s no road map for this pandemic, so all you can really do is roll up your sleeves and put your heart into rebuilding it,” Cochrane said.

Home ports — where vessels are based — such as Vancouver or Quebec City stir up even more economic activity than ports of call as cruise lines stock up on fuel, food, alcohol, bedding and other supplies.

Industrial sectors feel the ripple effects of the virus too. A massive federally owned dry dock just west of Victoria typically supplements its work for the Royal Canadian Navy with cruise ship contracts.

“When one of those cruise ships is getting refit, there can be up to 800 people working intensely for several weeks,” said Barry Penner, a spokesman for Cruise Lines International Association — North West and Canada.

The refurbishments can include everything from new carpets to fresh bathroom fixtures, cabinetry, sonar, telecommunications and wastewater treatment systems, providing business to regional companies.

Cruise ships were one of the first- and worst-hit sectors from COVID-19 with hundreds of passengers falling ill on ships as they sailed in various parts of the world. Transport Canada monitored hundreds of ships with Canadians on board as they battled outbreaks, or weren’t allowed to dock in planned ports as countries closed to foreign tourists to keep COVID-19 out.

Several hundred Canadians were flown back to Canada and quarantined in Trenton, Ont., and Cornwall, Ont. after disembarking ships with outbreaks on them that docked in Japan and California. At least a dozen passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship were diagnosed with COVID-19 after being quarantined in Trenton. One Canadian passenger who had been on board the Diamond Princess died in Japan in March after being hospitalized with COVID-19.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusTourism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Northern Health assuring public it has declared no public exposure events or outbreaks

As of Sept. 17, there are 241 cases in the Northern Health Authority region

Single-engine aircraft crashes near Telkwa

Two occupants of the plane sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital

Cullen announces bid for provincial NDP nomination for Stikine riding

Current MLA Donaldson not seeking re-election

Anne Marie Sam seeks NDP nomination for Nechako Lakes riding

She also ran in 2017 but was defeated by BC Liberal John Rustad

Northern Health records 1st fatality due to COVID-19

Six people died from the novel coronavirus on the weekend, health officials confirm

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Thousands of child care spaces coming to 35 B.C. communities

Province announces milestone in Childcare BC plan

Most Read