Faced with some of the most restrictive regulations in the industry - and that was only when the government of Canada allowed cruising in Canadian waters to resume this year at all! - cruise lines were jubilant about Monday’s news that Canada was dropping all - ALL! - COVID-related travel restrictions.
That’s right, even for cruise.
As Open Jaw has reported, as of 01OCT, cruise travellers to Canada will no longer be required to have pre-boarding tests, be vaccinated, or use ArriveCAN. All had been serious hurdles for cruise guests - and bookings - for cruises embarking or calling in B.C. en route to Alaska, or Great Lakes, St. Lawrence and Eastern Canada itineraries.
Ottawa notes that a set of guidelines for cruise lines will remain to protect passengers and crew, which will align with the approach used in the United States.
Two cruise lines were quick to react.
Holland America Line: “A Win”
In 2023, six Holland America Line ships will cruise Alaska roundtrip from Seattle; roundtrip from Vancouver, B.C.; or one-way between Whittier (Anchorage), Alaska, and Vancouver. The cruise line says the dropping of restrictions is “an important step for the cruise industry” that comes as “interest grows for booking 2023 Alaska cruises."
“This is a win for the cruise industry and for our guests, as we are seeing growing interest for booking 2023 cruises to Alaska and Canada/New England,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line. “It’s a positive step that puts health protocols for our Canada and Alaska cruises more in line with most of our other global cruises.”
Just prior to Canada’s announcement, Holland America Line introduced a new Health Protocols Tool on its website. It allows booked guests to enter their booking number, and the exact vaccination and testing requirements for their upcoming cruise will be outlined. All 2022 cruises are available, and 2023 departures will be loaded soon.
Princess Cruises: “Tremendous Development”
Princess Cruises operates both Canada/New England and Alaska itineraries. The cruise line notes that all of its Alaska cruises feature Canada, and calls the news a “tremendous development” for guests and travel advisors.
“We applaud these decisions by Transport Canada to make visiting the country easier and more convenient for all guests sailing our popular Alaska and Canada/New England itineraries, and look forward to welcoming everyone on our incredible Alaska and Canadian cruises,” said John Padgett, president of Princess Cruises.
“Alaska and Canadian cruises are among the most desired vacation options in the world, and we look forward to welcoming everyone who’s waited the past three years for this market to fully open.”
The company says it is in the process of notifying guests and advisors that no restrictions remain to taking a cruise that includes Canadian ports.