Canada Lifts Ban on Cruise Ships – But Why November?

Canada announced that they will lift the ban on cruise ships sailing into Canadian ports beginning in November. The Canadian government also stated that certain “conditions” must be met for the cruise ships to dock. This includes full cooperation with as yet unwritten new public health requirements. 

Originally, Canada banned cruise ships from docking at the start of the pandemic in 2020, was supposed to last until February 2022. However, the slowed economy in cruise port destinations was given as the reason to lift the ban. 

But why did Transport Minister Omar Alghabra choose November?

Queen Mary 2 in Quebec City
Cunard Queen Mary 2 docked in Quebec City. I took this photo from the historic Chateau Frontenac hotel.

Canada Announces Cruise Ship Ban to End in November

First, it’s important to note that while the ban on cruise ships will disappear in November, Canada still has a ban on non-essential travel with the United States. In other words, land border crossings are still closed to U.S. tourists. 

However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that an announcement on how they plan to implement the reopening of the borders will be announced shortly, with most likely sometime in August 2021 on the calendar.

Crossing the Canada/USA border on Amtrak train from Seattle.
Crossing the Canada/USA border on Amtrak train from Seattle.

Second, lifting the  ban on cruise ships in November is somewhat more showmanship than practical. There are no cruise ships sailing into Canada from the U.S. in November, on either coast. 

What opening in November does do, though, is to give cruise lines a realistic timeline so that they can plan and set itineraries that would begin in April without worry of a February ban extension. 

It also helps to give hope to all the Canadian businesses on the east and west coasts for the chance to gear up for what will probably be an extraordinary cruise season in 2022.

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Just in Time for Alaska and Canada / New England Cruises to Resume

Even though the U.S. issued a waiver to end the required port call in Canada for Alaska-bound cruise ships that departed from the U.S., chances are that the waiver could expire by next Alaska cruise season. 

By lifting the ban, this insures that in case the Passenger Vessel Services Act is reinstated come 2022, cruise ships have the ability to dock in Vancouver or Victoria to fulfill the legal requirement and can plan accordingly for Alaska 2022.

Over on the east coast, cruises from New York and Boston to Quebec City and Montreal and other Canadian ports in-between, offer some of the best close-to-home itineraries. 

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