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

Column: One parenting book certainly doesn’t fit all

Like the fingerprints they are born with – each child is different.… Continue reading

Influx of tourists helping to nurse Penticton’s economy back to health

The city has seen visitors multiply tenfold in recent weeks

Two vehicle crash on Highway 97 in Penticton

The crash happened before 3:30 p.m. in front of the Lakeside Inn and Suites

Pooch abandoned at Penticton doggy daycare suffered from oral disease

A fundraiser for Okie held by the BC SPCA surpassed its goal of $1,700

Keremeos Volunteer Fire Department receives $25k grant

Money used on a truck with low volume, high pressure water pump to fight wildfires

COVID-19: Homeless to be relocated from temporary Okanagan shelter

Homeless shelters in Vernon have been combined into one site at the curling rink since April

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

Most Read