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Sunday 7 February 2021

Canadian ban wrecks Alaska cruise season

Canada has extended its cruise ship ban for another full year, effectively ending the lucrative Alaska cruising season.

Canadian Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra announced the extension of Canada's current "no sail" order through February 2022.

"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," he said. This is the right and responsible thing to do."

The news came as a surprise for the Cruise Lines International Association, Travel Mole reported. 

"While we understand and support the government's focus on combatting Covid-19 in Canada, we are surprised by the length of the extension of the prohibition of cruise," said Charlie Ball, Chair of CLIA-North West & Canada.

"We hope to have an opportunity to revisit this timeline and demonstrate our ability to address Covid-19 in a cruise setting with science-backed measures."

The ban prohibits ships carrying more than 100 people in Canadian waters or vessels with more than a dozen passengers entering Arctic coastal waters.

"Two years without cruising in Canada will have potentially irreversible consequences for families throughout the country. We stand ready to work with Canadian health and transportation officials to operationalise a path forward," Ball said.

The news is a major blow to remote Alaskan coastal communities who rely on cruise traffic for income.

The US finds itself the victim of its own arcane and protectionist maritime laws, CNN reports.

The Passenger Vessel Services Act allows only vessels flying a US flag to transport passengers directly from one US port to another. All others must make a stop at a foreign port.
Most big cruise line ships are registered outside the US, in Panama, for example. 
So unless it is US-registered, a cruise ship that departs from Seattle for a trip to Alaska must first call at a Canadian port like Vancouver, or Victoria. Except for now, it can't. 

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