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DJ Canada Extends Cruise Ban by a Year Until February 2022--Update

· 02/04/2021 15:35
By Dave Sebastian

There won't be any large cruises in Canada this year, as the Canadian government extended its ban on cruise operations through February 2022.

The extended ban complicates cruise operators' efforts to restart sailings in North America this year, prolonging their hiatus since voyages came to a halt in March 2020 due to coronavirus outbreaks on ships. The ban had been scheduled to expire later this month.

The Canadian measure applies to cruise vessels carrying 100 or more people and prohibits passenger vessels carrying more than 12 people from entering Arctic coastal waters, including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik and the Labrador Coast, Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said. Adventure-seeking pleasure craft are also prohibited from entering Arctic waters, he added.

"Temporary prohibitions to cruise vessels and pleasure craft are essential to continue to protect the most vulnerable among our communities and avoid overwhelming our health-care systems," Mr. Alghabra said. "This is the right and responsible thing to do."

Cruise sailings from U.S. regions such as New England and Alaska typically have stops in Canada. Canadian ports reported visits from more than 1 million cruise passengers in 2019, primarily to Vancouver and ports in Canada's Maritime Provinces.

Members of the Cruise Lines International Association served 29.7 million passengers in 2019, more than half of whom were from North America.

The prolonged ban is the latest in a string of measures by the Canadian government to clamp down on travel to and from the country in a bid to mitigate the spread of new coronavirus variants. Although Covid-19 case counts are retreating from peaks in early January, Canada's vaccine rollout has been much slower than expected. The rate of Canadian vaccinations lags behind most advanced economies including the U.S. and the U.K.

Those who violate the passenger-vessel prohibition could be fined up to 1 million Canadian dollars, equivalent to about $779,000, imprisoned for up to 18 months, or both, the government said. Cruise ships carrying 100 or fewer people will be subject to local health authorities' protocols, the government said.

Local Arctic residents' craft used for essential transportation, subsistence fishing, harvesting and hunting won't be subject to the measures, according to the government.

Operators Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. have scrapped their U.S. sailings until April 30. Carnival Corp. Chief Executive Arnold Donald had targeted service resumption for all ships by the end of the year, he said in January.

The timing for U.S. voyages ultimately depends on receiving a permit from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is requiring operators to conduct mock sailings and apply for a certificate at least 60 days before offering passenger cruises. Like the Canadian government, the CDC discourages cruise travel.

--Jacquie McNish contributed to this article.

Write to Dave Sebastian at dave.sebastian@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 04, 2021 15:35 ET (20:35 GMT)

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