02/05/2021 11:19 EST

Cruises Banned From Docking In Canada Until At Least March 2022

Vessels with more than 100 passengers are not permitted in Canadian waters.

George Rose/Getty Images
A Royal Caribbean cruise ship is berthed on July 1, 2016, in Vancouver. Canada announced this week that cruise ships would be banned from docking in the country until Feb. 2022.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Canadian government has extended a ban on cruise ships through February 2022, which is expected to block trips from visiting Alaska this year.

Transport Canada on Thursday announced the extension of the ban enacted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada blocked cruise ships of more than 100 passengers starting in spring 2020. Vessels carrying more than 12 people are banned from entering Arctic coastal waters, including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, and the Labrador Coast.

The ban was set to expire at the end of February, but Transport Canada said “cruise vessels in Canadian waters pose a risk to our health care systems.”

The restrictions apply to ports across the country. 

U.S. federal law prohibits foreign-registered ships from sailing between two American ports without stopping at a foreign port between. Large cruise ships bound for Alaska either begin voyages in Canada or stop there on the way, and most large cruise ships visiting Alaska are registered in foreign countries.

Most of Alaska’s 1.3 million visitors two years ago were cruise ship passengers visiting southeast Alaska. Many disembarked for excursions in Anchorage, Denali National Park and Fairbanks.

Last year, the pandemic and Canadian restrictions resulted in only 48 cruise ship passengers visiting Southeast Alaska, Juneau-based Rain Coast Data reported.

Very little possibility for relief right now

Juneau City Manager Rorie Watt said he was not surprised by the extended ban, although he thought it might last a few months instead of the entire year,

“Three months ago, we thought we’d see ships in May,” Watt said. “A month ago maybe we’d see them in June, two weeks ago maybe we’d see them in July and last week, we thought maybe we’d see them in August.”

The order could be rescinded if pandemic conditions improve. But Skagway Mayor Andrew Cremata did not see a possibility for relief for now.

Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images
Cruise ship Safari Endeavour in shown in front of the Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm near Juneau, Alaska, in 2008.

“Any idea that there could be some kind of workaround is off the table now, because the Canadian government has stated very clearly that cruise ships will not even be allowed in Canadian waters,” Cremata said.

Watt said Southeast Alaska port communities weathering another year without revenue from cruise ship passengers and related businesses will need help.

“We are going to be hoping and praying for a large federal stimulus package,” Watt said.

With files from HuffPost Canada

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