Canada’s Extended Cruise Ban and Advice Not To Cruise Leave Advisors Desperate For Hope
Lynn Elmhirst, Open Jaw Trends Editor

Lorraine Rose, Uniglobe

Bernard Bacle, 
Voyages Club Adventure Travel

Mandy Armstrong, TTAND

Barb Tudino,
Cruise Holidays Luxury Travel Boutique

Diane Manson, Mountain City Travel

“Extreme.”

“Going too far.”

“Kicked in the teeth over and over again.”

“Arterial bleeding.”

“Another nail in the coffin.”

That’s just a smattering of the emotional responses from Canadian travel advisors that were evoked by Thursday’s surprise announcement by the federal government that there would be no cruising in Canadian waters before 2022.

Tacked onto the announcement was another sentence of tremendous impact to Canada’s travel retailers. “The Government of Canada continues to advise Canadian citizens and permanent residents to avoid all travel on cruise ships outside Canada until further notice.”

Canada’s travel-advisor community was still reeling from the suspension of flights to sun destinations and new travel restrictions that were announced in January. While advisors who spoke to Open Jaw acknowledged the need to keep people safe, this latest blow comes as a shock.

“This is another nail in the coffin,” Lorraine Rose at Uniglobe Bon Voyage Travel told Open Jaw.

“Banning these cruises for a whole year is going too far. They could have just done a three to four-month ban, with a review of the situation afterwards,” suggested Voyages Club Adventure Travel’s Bernard Bacle. “Our industry needs to restart, we need the work, our clients need to travel.”

“It just seems extreme,” said Mandy Armstrong at The Travel Agent Next Door, wondering why the ban would be necessary if the federal government’s claims that all Canadians will be vaccinated by the fall are true.

“I’m frustrated that they would continue the ban for a full year. Future cruise bookings are the only bookings I’m making right now, and this doesn’t instill confidence in those travellers who are willing to consider booking cruises,” she added, along with her fears “that this means that the government will keep the ‘avoid all cruise ship travel’ advisory in place until that time, which could have implications for insurance coverage, even for those people who choose to cruise from non-Canadian ports later this year.”

“We cannot sell Mexico and Caribbean until (at least) April 30th. We cannot sell Canadian waters sailings for another year. We are wary on selling Canadian destinations in the event that province-to-province restrictions may be instituted with little notice. Our options are almost limited to promoting 2022 holidays,” says Barb Tudino, a travel consultant with Cruise Holidays Luxury Travel Boutique, cautioning, “if you are confident that the cruise line will still be there in 2022 after two years of closures.”

“Arterial bleeding,” is how Diane Manson at Mountain City Travel described it, “I don’t even have the words to articulate this new layer of devastation.”

She spent Thursday afternoon on the phone cancelling two clients’ expedition cruises.

“Client X is keen to rebook this 46-day Expedition sailing of a lifetime in Canada’s North for 2022 and remains hopeful to travel elsewhere before this date. Client Y is keen to rebook their Expedition cruise for 2022, too. In the same conversation, Client Y and I discussed their November 2021 Africa booking,” Manson recounted, and it’s those kinds of conversations that give her, and other Canadian travel advisors, hope.

“I am an optimist and I believe that things should improve in the late spring, if we all behave,” says Voyage Club Adventure Travel’s Bacle.

“I’m disheartened, but I’m not giving up,” says TTAND’s Mandy Armstrong, “Even though it honestly feels like every week the government comes up with a new plan to try to kill any momentum our industry is gaining.”

“In all of this I am optimistic. There will be brisk business to attend to. Patience will serve our industry,” says Mountain City Travel’s Manson, then she predicts, “Sadly not all will be left standing.”

“I guess it will be survival of the fittest,” Uniglobe Bon Voyage Travel’s Rose told Open Jaw and added, with determination, “we will survive.”

What’s your reaction to the latest restriction? Please leave your comments below. Open Jaw may publish comments we receive by email; send them to news@openjaw.com. Please note that we do not publish anonymous comments.

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