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Canada extends cruise ship ban through February 2021


The Canadian Government has extended its cruise ship ban until February 28, 2021.

Canada's Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, made the announcement it will continue banning cruise ships carrying more than 100 people from sailing in Canadian waters.

"As Canadians are doing their part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Canada is working hard to ensure Canada’s transportation system remains safe. The extension of these temporary measures for cruise ships and other passenger vessels in Canada reflects our ongoing work with all levels of government, transportation industry stakeholders, and Indigenous peoples to help ensure appropriate measures are in place."

Prior to today's announcement, Canada had closed off its borders to all cruise ships until October 31, 2020.

Royal Caribbean had no cruises visiting Canada between October and February, due to a combination of already cancelled cruises and the fact ships do not sail to Canada in the winter months.

Canada's ban on cruise ships was initially announced on March 19, 2020, and extended on May 30, 2020.

Will there be Alaska cruises in 2021?

While the extension of the ban has no short-term effect on Royal Caribbean cruises, the bigger question is will Canada allow cruise ships to visit in summer 2021.

The ban of cruise ships in Canadian waters makes operating cruises to Alaska or New England effectively impossible because U.S. cabotage laws require foreign-flagged vessels leaving from a U.S. port of call to first call on a "distant foreign port" before returning to the United States.

Along with the No Sail order in the United States, Royal Caribbean was unable to offer cruises to Alaska in 2020, but a ban from Canada would prevent any Alaska cruises from operating.

Those who do not comply with the prohibition could be subject to penalties: $5,000 per day for individuals and $25,000 per day for corporations.

There are two primary ports Royal Caribbean relies on for its Canadian cruises: Vancouver and Victoria.

Vancouver is where Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas homeport during the season, while Victoria is a port of call for cruises out of Seattle.

Without access to Canadian ports, it is impossible for Royal Caribbean to operate any cruises, since even sailings beginning in the United States require a foreign port stop at some point in order to be in compliance with U.S. laws.

Royal Caribbean cancels 2020 Alaska, Canada/New England and Hawaii cruises


Royal Caribbean has informed travel agents that due to the Canadian Government restricting all cruise traffic through October 2020, its Alaska, Hawaii and Canada/New England cruises are cancelled.

The cruise line indicated itineraries touching on a Canadian port through October 2020 are suspended.

Similar to other cancelled cruises due to the current global health crisis, Royal Caribbean is offering guests three options:

Lift & Shift: Move your existing booking to next year, protecting the current price/promotion, simply by electing to remain on the same itinerary type, sailing length, stateroom category, and within the same 4-week period of their original cruise date same-time-next-year. Opt-in deadlines are as follows:

  • Sailings departing June 12-July 31, 2020
    • On-or-before June 10, 2020
  • Canada Port closures departing August 1-October 31, 2020
    • On-or-before June 17, 2020

Future Cruise Credit: You client will receive a Future Cruise Credit for 125% of the amount paid, to be redeemed on-or-before December 31, 2021 on sailings through April 2022. This option is automatic and will default if neither of the other options are selected.

Refund: If a refund is preferred, you can opt to receive a 100% refund of their cruise fare. No need to decide now – refund requests are available through December 31, 2020.

Last week, Canada's Public Health Agency announced it was extending its ban on cruises ships with more than 100 people through October 31, 2020.

Canada had originally closed off its borders to all cruise ships carrying more than 500 passengers and crew until between April 2 and July 1, 2020.

Without the ability to visit Canadian ports, Royal Caribbean cruises cannot legally offer sailings because of U.S. cabotage laws that require foreign-flagged vessels leaving from a U.S. port of call to first call on a "distant foreign port" before returning to the United States.

Royal Caribbean removes 2020 Alaska and Canada cruises from website


Royal Caribbean's website no longer has 2020 cruises to Alaska or Canada available to book.

Canada announced on Friday it was extending its ban on cruise ships through the end of October 2020.

While Royal Caribbean has not officially informed guests that sailings that visit Canada between July 1 - October 31 are cancelled, all potentially affected sailings have been removed from being able to be booked on the cruise line site.

When searching for Alaska sailings, no dates in 2020 are available to search, and Brilliance of the Seas 2020 sailings from Boston are all removed, minus a repositioning cruise from Boston to Tampa.

Royal Caribbean indicated a "full update" will be made by Royal Caribbean on Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020.

If cruise ships cannot visit Canada, Royal Caribbean cannot legally operate sailings that do not visit a "nearby foreign port" during the sailing, due to the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886.

Thanks to RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Bud Dickson for alerting us to this news.

Royal Caribbean will offer update next week on Canada cruise ban


Hours after Canada announced an extension of its ban on cruise ships through the end of October, Royal Caribbean sent a notice to travel agents an update is coming next week.

An email was sent to travel agents acknowledging they are aware of the ban by the Canadian government, and announced a "full update" will be made by Royal Caribbean on Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020.

In the email, Royal Caribbean explained they are working through what the policy change by Canada means for their cruises, and what impact it will have on booked sailings.

"We kindly ask for patience, as we diligently work on next steps. We know that you and your clients probably have a lot of questions, which we'd love to answer - but since this is hot off the press, we just don't have those answers yet. And, regrettably hold times on our phones are quite long. So to avoid any frustration, we kindly ask for your patience and understanding."

The ban has the potential to affect nearly all of Royal Caribbean's 2020 Alaska and Canada/New England sailings. Many of those types of sailings were already cancelled through the end of July, as part of the cruise line's global cruise suspension.

Canada extends cruise ship ban through October 31


Canada's Transport Minister announced today the Canadian Government has extended its ban on cruise ships through October 31, 2020.

The announcement was made this morning by the Public Health Agency of Canada during a press conference that addressed a variety of topics of what the Canadian government is doing to handle the health crisis. The ban applies to cruise ships with more than 100 people, including passengers and crew.

Canadian Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, announced updated measures pertaining to cruise ships and passenger vessels in Canadian waters.

Canada had originally closed off its borders to all cruise ships carrying more than 500 passengers and crew until between April 2 and July 1, 2020.

The ban of cruise ships in Canadian waters makes operating cruises to Alaska or New England effectively impossible because U.S. cabotage laws require foreign-flagged vessels leaving from a U.S. port of call to first call on a "distant foreign port" before returning to the United States.

Royal Caribbean had already cancelled its Alaska and Canada cruises through the end of July in conjunction with its voluntary global suspension of cruises.

UPDATE: Royal Caribbean will offer an update on what it will do next week.

Victoria, Canada working to expand harbor to handle Quantum Class cruise ships


The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority owns and operates the deep water, marina and upland holdings throughout Victoria's harbor and is working on expanding the docking infrastructure of Greater Victoria Harbor to allow cruise ships larger than a Quantum Class ship.

The project is planned for completion by May 2019, which is when Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas is expected to visit Victoria regularly.

This $6.8 million expansion project involves extending the existing berth and moor vessels by more than 55 meters, then adding a breasting "dolphin" and an additional structure that restricts the longitudinal movement of the ship when it’s moored near the pier. 

When complete, the harbor will be able to handle cruise ships of up to 200,000 gross tons.    

The construction project was awarded to Ruskin Construction Ltd. through a competitive bid process. Work began in October 2018 with the installation of falsework to temporarily support pouring of the concrete bollard platforms to which the ships will be moored. 

Ovation of the Seas will visit Victoria regularly beginning in May. The ship measure 348 meters in length, features 18 decks and can accommodate as many as 4,900 passengers — about 1,000 more passengers than the Royal Caribbean vessel that moored at the harbor previously.    

Royal Caribbean announces 2020-2021 Northeast, Bermuda & Caribbean sailings


Royal Caribbean announced today its 2020-2021 Bermuda, Northeast and 7-night Caribbean sailings.

As we reported earlier, Oasis of the Seas will become the first ship in her class, and the world's largest, to sail from the Northeast.  Oasis will arrive in May 2020 and  transport travelers to the clear blue waters of The Bahamas all summer with 7-night itineraries, as well as a select number of short cruises north to New England and Canada.

Adventure of the Seas will return to Cape Liberty, sailing a variety of 5- and 9-night summer and fall itineraries to Bermuda, New England and Canada, The Bahamas and the Caribbean.

Vision of the Seas will offer three 10- to 11-night open-jaw itineraries between Bayonne and Quebec City with an overnight in Quebec’s capital.

Symphony of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas will return to PortMiami and Port Canaveral, Fla., respectively, offering 7-night itineraries to the Eastern and Western Caribbean. Both ships will feature visits to Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Brilliance of the Seas will sail 7- to 10-night cruises to Canada starting in September 2020, while Grandeur of the Seas continues to offer 9-night itineraries to Canada and New England for fall foliage from her year-round homeport in Baltimore, Md. Grandeur will embark on a combination of 5- and 9-night itineraries to Bermuda and The Bahamas in the summer months, and transition to 9-night Southeast Coast & Bahamas and 12-night Southern Caribbean cruises for the winter. Northeast, Canada and Bermuda itineraries will be available to book as of Dec. 13, 2018.

In 2020, San Juan, Puerto Rico will welcome what will be the newly modernized Freedom of the Seas. Freedom will return for the third consecutive year to sail 7-night itineraries year-round throughout the Southern Caribbean, traveling to destinations like Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis; St. Johns, Antigua; Castries, St. Lucia and Bridgetown, Barbados.

Liberty of the Seas  will continue to sail from Galveston to the Western Caribbean ahead of her own highly anticipated amplification in early 2021. 

Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society members can begin booking sailings on December 12, 2018, with the general public available to begin booking on December 13, 2018.



7-night Caribbean

Excursion Focus: Craigdarroch Castle and Butchart Garden


If you take a Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska, there is a good chance your cruise will make a stop at Victoria, Canada, and the two most popular cultural tourist attractions are available to see in one tour via the cruise line.

If you do even a minimal amount of research into what to do in Victoria, you will find that Craigdarroch Castle and Butchart Garden are at the top of many lists.  As a result, we thought it would make sense to take a tour to bring us to both.


The Craigdarroch Castle and Butchart Garden shore excursion is a bus tour that will take you from the cruise ship area and visit the two most popular spots in Victoria.

The tour bus waits just outside the area where your ship docks, although be forewarned it is a rather long walk from the ship to the buses and delays getting off the ship is not unusual.

Once on the bus, we took a guided tour to our first stop.  Throughout the bus ride, our guide provides a narration of the history of Victoria, as well as pointing out significant spots along the way.  

Our first stop was Craigdarroch Castle, which is a 19th century home built by industrialist Robert Dunsmuir in 1890, with antique furnishings and gorgeous glass fixtures. 

As you arrive, your group is greeted by one of the castle's employees who talks about the history of the home, as well as sharing some rules.  One of the more unusual rules is you cannot wear backpacks into the castle.  If you have a backpack, you must wear it on your front as a means of avoiding accidentally running into things in the house.

As you enter Craigdarroch Castle, you will walk through much of the house in a path that will take you floor by floor, upstairs and then across the home and down stairs until you exit.  Keep in mind that backtracking is difficult, so do not leave a floor until you are satisfied with what you have seen.

The home is kept in a state that is representative of what it looked like back in the late 1800s.  

Beyond the inherit beauty and grandeur of the home, Craigdarroch Castle provides a glimpse into what life was like during this era. The house features a collection of residential stained and leaded glass, period furnishings, wood paneling and carvings.

After everyone visits the castle, it is time to hop back on the bus and onto the next stop at Butchart Garden.

Upon arrival to Butchart Garden, you essentially have an hour and a half to walk the grounds and explore on your own.  

Butchart Gardens is massive, encompassing a 55-acre site that originated as a turn-of-the-century quarry site that turned into a beautification project.

There are many trails and paths to see, with the Sunken Garden being a well-known highlight.

This tour does not provide nearly enough time to see the entire breadth of the Gardens, so be prepared to prioritize what you want to see.

Once time at the Gardens is up, you re-board the bus to take you back to the port area.  On our tour, they offered to drop guests off in downtown Victoria as well.


The Craigdarroch Castle and Butchart Garden bus tour covers exactly what it promised, and gives just enough time to get a sense of what each attraction offers.

The time spent at Craigdarroch Castle is sufficient to see all the rooms and get a good feel for the history and opulence of the home.  There are other tours and groups visiting at the same time you will be, so do not expect a private viewing.

As noted earlier, Butchart Garden is so massive an area that there is simply not enough time to "see it all" in the window of time you have on this tour.  The goal of this excursion is really for guests to get a sense of what Butchart Garden is all about, without committing most of the day to seeing it.  A friend was on a multi-hour tour of just Butchart Garden and remarked that he still did not have enough time to see it all.

The bus driver provides narration throughout your visit, and it is a good way of learning about the history and lifestyle of Victoria.  The narration can also serve as a means of making mental notes for places to visit on your own later in the day.

Ultimately, we booked this tour because we wanted to see both attractions without spending a bundle of time at either one.  This was our first visit to Victoria, so we wanted a "taste" of what the area has to offer.  If you are looking for an opportunity to see both Craigdarroch Castle and Butchart Garden but not necessarily in-depth, this is a great tour for you.  There were a few hours left over for touring Victoria on our own, including grabbing lunch downtown.

Cost: $129 per adult, $89 per child.

Royal Caribbean announces 2017-2018 Seasonal and Year-Round Itineraries to Caribbean and Canada


Royal Caribbean released today its 2017-2018 cruise schedule for ships departing from the Northeast, Florida and Puerto Rico, year-round and seasonal escapes to the Caribbean and Canada.

All of the released sailings will go on sale on April 13, 2016.

The big change is there will be two ships based out of Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey beginning in summer 2017.

Royal Caribbean will offer expanded Caribbean itineraries from the Northeast in 2017, with Rhapsody of the Seas joining Anthem of the Seas in Cape Liberty, New Jersey.

  • Rhapsody of the Seas will sail 7-night itineraries to the Bahamas throughout the summer.
  • Anthem of the Seas will sail to Bermuda in the summer and the Caribbean year-round on 5-, 7- and 9-night itineraries. Anthem of the Seas will also sail to Bermuda in the summer. In the autumn months, Anthem of the Seas will sail 9-night voyages to New England and Canada.

Baltimore, Maryland

Grandeur of the Seas, sailing from Baltimore all year, will continue offering a wide breadth of cruise experiences, from a 5-night itinerary calling on Bermuda to a 9-night voyage sailing to New England and Canada as the colors of fall foliage begin to show. Grandeur will also sail 12-night itineraries to premier Southern Caribbean destinations, including the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Kitts and St. Maarten, as well as new 9-night itinerary to Nassau and CocoCay, Bahamas.

Southern Caribbean Hot Spots from Miami, Fla.:

Navigator of the Seas will sail 5- and 9-night itineraries to Southern Caribbean destinations, such as Aruba and Bonaire.

Eastern and Western Caribbean from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.:

Independence of the Seas will offer 4- and 5-night itineraries to Costa Maya and Cozumel Mexico; Falmouth, Jamaica and Labadee, Haiti.
Freedom of the Seas will offer 6- and 8-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.
Serenade of the Seas will sail 10- and 11-night Caribbean itineraries including a new port of call in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Key West and Beyond from Tampa, Fla.:

Brilliance of the Seas will join Rhapsody in Tampa for the winter, offering 4 and 5-night itineraries to Key West, Cozumel, Mexico and Grand Cayman.
Rhapsody of the Seas will relocate to Tampa for the winter season and sail 7-night Western Caribbean itineraries.

Exotic Island Escapes from Puerto Rico:

Jewel of the Seas will sail to romantic destinations such as St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Barbados on 7-night itineraries from San Juan.

Which sailings sound interesting to you? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Royal Caribbean cancels Brilliance of the Seas cruises to Quebec


Royal Caribbean announce it is cancelling its three cruises in Quebec, Canada for Brilliance of the Seas.

Port of Quebec spokesman, Anick Métivier, commented on the decision, "This is a repositioning of the ship that the cruise line has decided to do.  Cruise lines reposition their ships generally based on fluctuations of the international market, and it is beyond our control."

As a result of the cancellation, the Port of Quebec has downgraded its projections for cruise passengers for the year from 117,500 to 111,000.  Despite the cancellation, this will still be the second best cruise season ever for Quebec.

Two other Royal Caribbean ships are still planning cruises to Quebec.  Explorer of the Seas will be arriving in Quebec from September 18 to 20, 2013 and another visit planned in 2014.  Legend of the Seas will make her inaugural visit to Quebec in 2014 as well.