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Canada wont require Covid tests or vaccines in order to cruise to Canada after September

26 Sep 2022

Canada is relaxing its Covid-19 protocols that will make it easier for cruise ship passengers to visit the country.

Radiance of the Seas docked in Vancouver

On Monday, Transport Canada announced it will remove all Covid-19-related entry restrictions as of October 1, 2022.

This would include testing, quarantine and isolation requirements. As it relates to cruise ships, cruise passengers will not have to do pre-board tests or prove they have been vaccinated.

  • No more random Covid-19 tests for travellers coming into Canada
  • Unvaccinated Canadians will not need to isolate when they return to the country
  • Travellers will not have to self-monitor or report symptoms of COVID-19 anymore
  • Some guidelines will remain in place, which Public Health Agency of Canada said would line up with the U.S.
Halifax Port

After the United States dropped many of its health requirements earlier this year, Canada was one of the few countries with Covid-19 testing and vaccination requirements in place.

October 1st will be when the change kicks in


Among other things, it means the ArriveCan app will not be mandatory when the order expires. Use of ArriveCan will be optional after September 30th

Canada did add a caveat that protocols could return, should they see a need for them.

Royal Caribbean has not made any changes to the pre-cruise testing protocols at this time, but there's usually a lag factor for any cruise line to internalize government policy changes and issue new protocols.

The change in policy is too late for the Alaska cruise season, but there's still a few autumn cruises on Canada's east coast that could benefit from the change.

If your cruise visits Canadian ports of call prior to October 1, then the old rules would still apply related to required testing, vaccination, and documentation protocols.

Why the change now?

Canada made its policy change for a variety of reasons.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said the changes were "facilitated by a number of factors, including modelling that indicates that Canada has largely passed the peak of the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 fuelled wave, Canada’s high vaccination rates, lower hospitalization and death rates, as well as the availability and use of vaccine boosters (including new bivalent formulation), rapid tests, and treatments for Covid-19."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the decision to drop border restrictions was influenced by public health officials. “There is the sense that these border measures were no longer effective, or no longer justified,” he said.

Why fall is a great time to cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia

23 Aug 2022

Fall is the perfect time to enjoy the natural beauty of the Canadian maritime provinces, and Halifax is a star attraction, popular on many east coast cruising itineraries. Established in 1749, the historic city is full of east coast charm, with plenty of activities that take advantage of the natural surroundings and seaside location.

Peggy's Cove

With mild temperatures and warm afternoon sun, it is an ideal season to explore the outdoors and the magnificent Atlantic views. The quaint, historic city center with classic red brick buildings takes guests back to the area’s 17th-century colonial roots.

Whether it be for scenic tours, outdoor activities, food, or relaxation, there is something for everyone to enjoy. And, with the busy summer tourist season ending, the atmosphere is perfect.  

Here are some of the top reasons to cruise to this east coast destination in autumn.

Weather and Climate

Halifax is located in Eastern Canada, on the Atlantic Ocean. It is situated in the aptly named Halifax Harbour, one of the largest, deepest harbour’s in the world, perfect for a cruise ship's port of call.  

Fall makes for great temperatures in this region. September can see cooler mornings but generally warms up to temperatures in the 70s as the sun warms the land, perfect weather for sightseeing. The Atlantic Ocean is still relatively mild in the 60s, which makes it great for boating activities.

In October, as the leaves start to turn into their most vibrant colors, visitors can expect temperatures in the low 50 and 60s and slightly more rain than in September. Make sure to pack a jacket, as the mornings can be cool.

Nova Scotia lighthouse

The surrounding ocean and rolling hills of Halifax can create dynamic weather patterns, so it is always a good idea to have layers and an umbrella for a quick shower. Fog is common in the coastal city but most often burns off, so not to worry.

Crowds and Prices

Halifax sunset

Halifax has become a prime tourist destination, with millions of regional, national and international travelers visiting each year. The summer months, with the warmest weather and lots of festivals, see the most visitors.

In the fall, students start back to school after labour day, seeing a significant decrease in crowds. This makes for less traffic, leisurely strolls and easier to get into sought after restaurants along Halifax’s seaside boardwalk.

Also, the latter part of the fall seas better pricing. On select Royal Caribbean cruises, prices drop as much as 40% between September and October. Money that can be spent on fun excursions and lobster feasts.

Fall foliage

Fall foliage

One of the foremost reasons to visit the east coast is the fall foliage. Trees change from their summer greens to the most spectacular colors, brilliant reds, oranges, to soft yellows. So beloved are these leaves that a red maple leaf is the centerpiece of the Canadian flag.

There are lots of ways to take part in this scenic transformation, which is at its height from mid-September to October. For a more relaxed pace, stroll the downtown areas of Halifax and its many parks and tree lined streets. Don’t miss the Halifax Public Gardens. Established in the Victorian age, this free park is a stunning showcase of flora and fauna. The crimson colored bandstand is a great spot to take in the views or catch a concert.

The area also has a number of parks, including Point Pleasant Park which features almost 200 acres of serene, forested landscape in the southern end of the Halifax Peninsula.

Outdoor activities

halifax Harbour Hopper

The east coast provides a wide array of activities and sights to see. Many great beaches, boating, kayaking, and trails; the possibilities are endless. For the more adventurous, there is whale watching, or perhaps a “Harbour Hopper” a bus that turns into a boat for a tour of both the land and sea.

Another must see is Peggy’s Cove, a fishing village not far from Halifax. Home to its famous lighthouse and rocky shores, it is truly a picture perfect postcard. A recent upgrade to the area provides a fully accessible viewing deck on the Atlantic Ocean, which is great news for tourists.

For those wanting an authentic mariner experience, Royal Caribbean offers a local excursion where guests get to be crew for the day on a lobster boat. As they sail out of the harbour, cruisers get to learn about the importance of lighthouses, followed by a hands-on experience retrieving a lobster from its trap.   

Seafood and much more

Halifax harbor

The Haligonian food scene has been shaped by its proximity to the sea and its French, English, and Scottish settlers. In particular, this Atlantic region of Canada is renowned for its bountiful fresh seafood. Throughout the fall, guests can enjoy lobster served with butter in the traditional Nova Scotia style. Don't worry; most places provide plastic bibs for the somewhat messy process of consuming this delicacy.

September is also a great time to take part in Canada’s largest oyster festival. Try a variety of oysters in differing preparations, and see how to shuck oysters from the pros. Fresh mussels, Digby scallops, and even dried seaweed are all on the menu


The region is known for its wild blueberries and freshly harvested apples, which are used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. Casual eats include a donair, which consists of spicy meat in a pita with a genuinely unique creamy garlic sauce. A product of the Scottish influence (Nova Scotia means New Scotland in Latin, after all) are oatcakes; a perfect afternoon treat with coffee. And, before you leave, make sure to pick up some authentic, locally made maple syrup for those who weren't lucky enough to cruise with you.


Halifax Port

Some of the best places to try out activities and try some local delights is the waterfront. The impressive 2.5 mile waterfront boardwalk weaves amongst some of its glories from the past, as well as great food and activity options. With fewer crowds in the fall, it is particularly a nice place to explore.

Rent a bike and peddle the whole of the path to get the full experience. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops of all types. Don’t miss Amos Pewter along the waterfront, which makes unique handicrafts and jewelry out of the metal alloy. To cap it all off, try your hand at cards or the slots at the local casino, also located on the boardwalk.

After a walk, visit the Alexander Keith Brewery, which has been making beer since 1820. Listen to some Celtic music at the 200 year old Historic Properties while chatting with locals. The relaxed atmosphere of fall makes it so enjoyable.

Historic Sites

Museum in Halifax

If the weather turns to rain, or simply you are interested in the history of Halifax, there are plenty of attractions that are easily accessible in the downtown area.

Located on the Halifax waterfront, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic takes you back in time as you can learn about the region’s maritime history, including its role in the Titanic recovery. Not far away is Fairview Lawn Cemetery, the final resting place of over 100 victims of the Titanic.

There are also several great museums and galleries located in the downtown area, such as the Museum of Natural History, The Canadian Museum of Immigration, and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, which features local renowned artist Maud Lewis. Topping it all off is Citadel Hill, is mid-18th century fort with an impressive star-shaped footprint.

Cruises going to Halifax

Serenade of the Seas in Halifax

For cruisers wanting to explore the picturesque East coast with a stop in Halifax,  Royal Caribbean offers a variety of fall itineraries and ships to choose from:  

  • Liberty of the Seas – 4 nights leaving from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Oasis of the Seas – 5 nights leaving from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Voyager of the Seas – 7 nights leaving from Boston, Massachusetts
  • Serenade of the Seas - 7 nights leaving from Boston, Massachusetts
  • Adventure of the Seas – 9 nights leaving from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Liberty of the Seas – 9 nights leaving from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  • Vision of the Seas – 9 nights leaving from Baltimore Maryland
  • Jewel of the Seas – 11 nights leaving from Quebec City, Quebec

I took a beer cruise tour of Canada and New England

12 Aug 2022

Most of us are stuck in a heatwave that seems never ending, so it seems like a good time to remind everyone that fall is on its way! We talk a lot about beachy cruises (Caribbean, Mexico, Mediterranean). But autumn is fall foliage season in northeast America, and it makes for a beautiful trip.

Garrison Brewing Company

Mr. Mills and I took a 9 night cruise to New England and Canada in 2018 for our 5-year anniversary, and it still remains one of our favorites as far as ports go. We have otherwise mostly sailed to the Caribbean, and this cruise was just so unique. In our land-lubber life, we are foodies and beer connoisseurs, so we really took that to heart when planning this one, and I even took to calling it “The Beer Cruise.”

Keep in mind this was in 2018, so pre-Covid. Some businesses and/or itineraries may have changed since then. I thought it would be fun to reminisce about a fun sailing.

If you are looking for something different, or just want to get away from all this heat, check out our “Beer Cruise” itinerary*.

Cape Liberty

Oasis of the Seas in New York with Statue of Liberty

Because we booked the 9 night cruise, we departed from Cape Liberty. Some New England & Canada cruises skip this port and depart directly from Boston, and are 7 nights.

Read moreGuide to cruises from New York

We flew into Newark Airport, and stayed at a hotel nearby. We took an Uber to the cruise port in the morning. I think the drive took maybe 10-15 minutes at most. Fairly unexciting boarding process.

We picked up our WOW bands at Boleros and then went about exploring the ship. I almost missed sailaway, because I had gone down to the room for something, and then realized the ship was moving. I have never sprinted up so many flights of stairs so fast! I’ll never do that again!


Jewel of the Seas in Boston

Boston was the port we were most excited for prior to sailing, but also one that was the first time we’ve ever worried about making sailaway.

We started with a tour of Boston Beer Company–the folks that make Sam Adams. If you’re in Boston, and are a beer nerd, this is one that is a must.

The tour is $10, and includes a guided tour of the Brewhouse, tasting of the flagship Boston Lager, current seasonal, and an exclusive R&D style. I’m not sure if they still do it, but we got to keep our tasting glasses as well. There’s also a taproom at the end where you can hang out and drink more great Sam Adams beer.

We stuck around for a drink, and met another couple decked out in Houston Astros gear. We chatted with them, and ended up sharing a cab over to Fenway, our next stop.

Fenway park

The other must do, when in Boston, is of course Fenway Park. We are massive baseball fans, and are on a mission to visit all the Major League Baseball parks in the US. So could we even consider missing a home game while in Boston’s port? Absolutely not. It was going to be a close call though, and we were only able to catch 4-5 innings before racing back to the ship.

Still, sitting in those iconic lacquered bleachers and listening to the crack of the bat as the ball raced towards the Green Monster…we wouldn’t have given that up. Just keep an eye on your watch!


Jewel of the Seas in Portland

Next up was Portland, Maine–this is really where the beer in The Beer Cruise came into play.

I had booked us on the Maine Brew Bus, knowing that in such a brewery-heavy town, we’d never make it to all of them on our own. This ended up being a great decision, and we had a fantastic day.

Not only did we not have to worry about transportation around town, but the Brew Bus works with the breweries to make sure they are getting in at the best times, and are providing a good experience for their customers.

For example, at Bissell Bros, which is a major hot spot and can have a massive line around the building, we were there before open, to ensure we got full attention from the staff.

The breweries we visited:

Also had my first Lobster Roll (I’m from Indiana, ok? Don’t judge me!) while in Portland, and oh was it everything I’d ever hoped for. Butter and carbs and tender lobster. I probably could have had 6 and been totally happy.

I highly recommend Portland Lobster Company if you’re in the area. 

Bar Harbor

Jewel of the Seas in Bar Harbor

I’ll admit, Bar Harbor was probably our least favorite stop on the cruise–but we did have some fun. It’s just a more touristy spot, and since it’s an island, you’re a little more limited on what you can do.

The most popular excursions take you to the top of Cadillac mountain, and we had booked a bus tour that wound its way up for a vista view.

Cadillac mountain

This took a couple of hours of our morning, and while looking out over the bay was beautiful–if you get motion sick at all, I can’t recommend this one. Maybe it was due to the beer tour the day before, but we were definitely more nauseous on this bus ride than usual.

Once we finished the tour, we walked around the town a bit, and got something to eat. I couldn’t visit Maine without getting at least one whole lobster, since I’d never had one (again…we come from a landlocked state), so we stopped at Stewman’s Lobster Pound for lunch.

It was fun to break apart the crustacean–definitely a bit messy, though, and I think I prefer to have it done for me! We popped into Atlantic Brewing for a quick flight, before it was back to the ship.


Bow of cruise ship in Halifax

After several ports in New England, we crossed the border into Canada. Halifax is such a historical city, and while we were doing a pub crawl, there’s certainly no shortage of things to see.

Our crawl was on a tour by Royal Caribbean, and we were given tickets for different bars and restaurants around town. We had the option to hop on a trolley bus, but Halifax is pretty walkable, albeit hilly!

If you are able-bodied, I’d walk it, and enjoy the sights along the way, although I will admit to taking the bus back to give my tired legs a break.

Before we kicked off our crawl, we started at Garrison Brewery, right off the port. This ended up being our most memorable beer joint from the trip, and we are still talking about going back 5 years later. They serve their flights on beer barrel staves, and they aren’t short pours either.

The beers were super varied, from IPAs and stouts, to a margarita sour that was way before its time. There was a spruce beer that we had to bring home. Just excellent, well done brew that is a must for any fermented fanatics.

The crawl included a couple of historic bars in Halifax, as well as a few newer options. We even visited Alexander Keith’s, which is one of the oldest working breweries in North America.

Saint John

Our last port stop of The Beer Cruise was Saint John’s in New Brunswick.

This was the only port where we didn't go to a brewery, but we had an excursion that took all day. On your first visit to Saint John’s, there’s really only one thing you should be doing, and that is to go to the Reversing Rapids.

This is a natural phenomenon caused by the extreme tidal flow in the area. Because it’s such a drastic tide, it causes the Saint John river to flow in two opposite directions, depending on the time of day! We got to see it at both times, and it really demonstrated how powerful nature can be.

We also got to see the tide come in quickly at the Bay of Fundy, which is where we ate lunch before heading back to see the rapids a second time. Along the way, you’ll see the river at both low and high tide, and it’s really cool to see such drastic changes. 

Halifax Port

Last thoughts about this itinerary:  Because we took our New England/Canada cruise in September, there were very few kids on board. The crowd was less families and more 50+.

Because this was the dynamic, the activities didn’t feel like the typical Royal Caribbean programming we were used to. It was definitely geared more towards a more upscale, older audience.

Less poppy, kid-friendly, and more art & culture. I’d imagine that varies if you take this cruise during busy holiday weeks, but just something to keep in mind. Otherwise, we loved the port stops, and would absolutely do this cruise again.

Air Canada's new Covid testing is a good option for Canadians flying to the US for cruises

03 Nov 2021

Air Canada, the nation’s largest airline, is making it easier for Canadians to get pre-travel Covid testing, which is great news for cruisers flying to the United States.

The airline recently announced that they are selling a portable test kit for both molecular and antigen testing. These kits allow for a self-administered test which will be monitored by a health professional via a mobile device, with results in 45 minutes.

Mark Nasr, Air Canada's Senior Vice president of Products Marketing and E-commerce noted "We are pleased to offer our customers the most comprehensive range of travel testing options that will make travelling abroad easier and more predictable"

This provides Canadian travellers with added flexibility, especially with varying testing requirements for flying.

Testing requirements

Currently, there are specific testing protocols for both flying and cruising. The latest testing requirements for Canadians flying to the United States for a Royal Caribbean cruise:

Flying to the United States - Canadians, aged 2 and over, flying to the U.S. must provide a negative Covid test within 3 days of their flight. More specifically, the test must be performed no more than 3 days before the first scheduled departure time in the flight itinerary. For flights to the U.S., either an antigen or molecular test(such as PCR test) is accepted.

Pre-cruise testing - Cruisers must provide testing 2 days before the sail date. The day a passenger sets sail is not included as one of the days you count back from. For kids under 12, there are additional testing requirements as noted on the cruise line's website. It is important to note that supervised telehealth tests are not accepted for unvaccinated guests (kids under 12), they must be completed in person.

Return to Canada testing - For the return trip home, travellers must have a negative COVID-19 molecular test (PCR, RT-PCR, NAAT, RT-LAMP) result. The test must be taken a maximum of 72 hours before the departure of their last direct flight to Canada.

How the test kits work  

Air Canada has partnered with Switch Health, which currently provides in person testing through clinics and airports in Canada. For the portable kits, they are currently offering both antigen and molecular (RT-LAMP and PCR), available for purchase via Air Canada’s website. These are accessible for purchase pre-trip, shipped to the desired Canadian address.

Travellers need to register the kit by creating an account prior to testing. When ready to test, log into the account with government issued identification such as passport or driver’s license. Access to the internet and a mobile device with a camera is required to join the telehealth session to complete your test. Telehealth sessions are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Participants will be guided through the testing process by a health professional. Results will be uploaded to the account within 45 minutes with an official electronic report suitable for travel verification.

At this time, Royal Caribbean is not yet accepting these tests, but they do provide travellers with more options when flying to and from the United States. 

How to order

The kits are available for purchase through Air Canada’s website under “Covid 19 testing locations”. This is fulfilled in partnership with Switch Health.

Currently, there is special pricing for Air Canada's Aeroplan members (the airline’s loyalty program ) with promotional pricing of $79 CAD for two Antigen tests. An RT-LAMP test kit is priced at $149 CAD and a RT-PCR for $159 CAD. In addition, members will receive 500 bonus Aeroplan points for the purchase of a kit. For those who are not currently members, signup instructions are included on the site. Additionally, tests can be purchased using existing Aeroplan points through the Aeroplan e-store.

Free shipping is included, mailing within 5-7 business days, or express shipping for 1-3 business days, for an additional $15 CAD.

What Canadians need to know about cruise insurance

19 Oct 2021

One of the biggest issues for Canadians wanting to cruise is the federal government’s advisory against cruise travel and its impact on insurance.

This level of risk assessment can void a portion or all of a travel policy, even if already purchased. Some cruisers have expressed concerns about the lack of transparency as it relates to insurance coverage in the current situation.

Consider the following tips when evaluating cruise travel insurance requirements.

Terms and Conditions

When purchasing travel insurance there are three main travel categories: trip interruption, trip cancellation, and emergency medical. It is important to understand coverage and limitations for all of them, especially as it relates to Covid.

Most insurance companies list Covid related travel products on their websites. However, the depth of coverage is not always clear. A detailed review of the terms and conditions or frequently asked questions (FAQs) section is often required to determine what is included, or more importantly what’s not included. In some cases, policies don’t reference cruising specifically but rather that travelling despite a travel warning or travel ban, will result in a lack of coverage.

For example, TD Insurance clearly lists on their insurance homepage, that travel advisories will invalidate any claims for Covid related expenses. However, for Manulife Insurance, their Covid travel insurance list exclusions in the FAQs section. There are also questions that relate to pre-conditions, which may impact eligibility for insurance.

Royal Caribbean’s Benefits

One great benefit to cruising with Royal Caribbean is their “We’ll Get you Home” policy. The Healthy Sail Centre explains:

  • “If you or a member of your traveling party tests positive for COVID-19 during your cruise, we'll take care of things so you can focus on getting better. Costs related to onboard medical care and your travel home — even a private jet, if needed — are on us.*”

It further specifies:

  • If you are fully vaccinated or unable to be vaccinated and you test positive for COVID-19 during the voyage, the cruise line will: • cover the cost of necessary COVID-19 related medical treatment onboard the ship; • coordinate and cover the costs of any required land-based quarantine for you and members of your Traveling Party; and • coordinate and cover the costs of travel arrangements to get you and members of your Traveling Party back home.

For those who add some vacation time pre or post cruise, it should be highlighted that this program covers getting Covid during the cruise (not pre or post cruise). And, as with most policies, is subject to change, so monitor accordingly.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean is flying passengers home on a private jet if they have Covid-19

Insurance Review

Given the variables in insurance, it is best to complete a review of travel insurance from all sources for both the land and cruise portions of the vacation. Check current travel insurance, annual plans, employee benefits, etc.

Note, major airlines such as Air Canada and WestJet were offering complimentary Covid insurance with ticket purchases, however, this has not been extended beyond Oct.31. 2021.

Consider what’s needed:

  • Trip cancellation, coverage if a trip is cancelled due to Covid
  • Trip interruption, for example, for quarantine
  • Emergency travel/ medical Insurance pre/ post cruise
  • Coverage for pre-existing conditions, age, and other exclusions

Often, the insurance legal ease can be unclear, and policies can vary amongst provincial jurisdictions. If ambiguous, it is best to contact the insurance company and seek clarification in writing so there is no confusion in the event that claims are submitted.

What the future holds

In July, The Canadian government said that they will open Canada to cruise ships starting Nov 1, 2021. The Federal Transport Minister, Omar Alghabra noted at that time that cruise companies will be required to "fully comply with public health requirements" in order to sail through Canada's waters and dock at its ports.

No additional updates have been provided on these conditions, or changes in timelines.  It is unclear if the government will maintain its travel ban on cruising while welcoming international cruise ships.

Travel advisories can change quickly, so it is critical to monitor both cruise and specific country travel notices, especially when a trip has been booked well in advance. Subscribe to travel updates through the government of Canada website and follow social media accounts.

Canada lifts cruise ship ban beginning in November

15 Jul 2021

Canada's multi-year ban on cruise ships is coming to an end.

Canada's Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced today it will end its prohibition on cruise ships as of November 1, 2021.

Prior to today's announcement, the cruise ship ban was set to go through February 2022.

Effectively, the announcement means cruise ships can sail to Canada for the start of the traditional cruise season beginning in 2022.

"As Canadians have done their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19, our government continues to work hard to safely restart our economy and build back better," said said Alghabra, in a release Thursday.

"We will welcome cruise ships — an important part of our tourism sector — back in Canadian waters for the 2022 season."

Cruise ships have been banned since March 2020 in Canada due to the global health crisis, although unlike the United States, there had been no pathway for ships to restart until today.

Canada's cruise ship ban had a significant impact on cruise ships, which meant due to U.S. cabotage laws, ships were unable to conduct Alaska or New England cruises.

Canada banning cruise ships means cruise lines cannot legally offer cruises to Alaska or New England because of cabotage laws that require a foreign port to be visited during the sailing.

Cruises sailing from the United States must adhere to the Passenger Vessel Service Act of 1886 (sometimes referred to as the Jones Act).

For the 2021 cruise season, the United States passed a temporary waiver allowing cruise ships to bypass Canada, although that only helped Alaska cruises for this season.

Congress sends bipartisan letter to Canada asking for compromise on cruise ship ban

25 Feb 2021

Canada's ban of cruise ships for an entire year has compelled the United States Congress to work together in trying to find a better answer.

Members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee sent a bipartisan letter to the Canadian Ambassador to the United States yesterday, concerning the one year extension of the cruise ban in Canada.

On February 4, 2021, Canada's Minister of Transport announced a ban of all cruise ships from Canadian waters until February 28, 2022.

The letter was signed by  Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO), Congressman Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-OH), and  Congressman Don Young (R-AK).

In the letter, the congressmen shared their concern regarding Canada's ban, and encouraged Canada to "find a mutually agreeable solution."

"We would like to encourage the Government of Canada to work with the U.S. government and industry stakeholders to find a mutually agreeable solution."

The group suggest Canada allowing cruise ships to conduct a "technical stop" whereby Canada would permit cruise ship stops in Canada without disembarking passengers.

"It is our hope that this solution would both address the important health concerns of Canadian authorities and allow cruises to resume with the approval of U.S. Government authorities when it is deemed safe to do so."

Due to U.S. laws, cruise ships that are foreign flagged (which is pretty much every cruise ship on major cruise lines) must stop in a foreign port if they sail from the United States. By Canada denying entry into their waters, that leaves no foreign ports for cruise ships to sail to within the vicinity of Alaska or New England.

The letter includes optimism that the global health crisis is starting to subside, and vaccine rollout will be the impetus for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to allow cruise ships to start sailing again.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) thanked Congress for acting on behalf of the cruise industry in sending the letter.

CLIA issued this statement after the letter was sent to the Canadian Ambassador, as well as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

"We thank Chairman DeFazio, Ranking Member Graves and other signatories of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for their leadership in facilitating dialogue with the Canadian government to determine a path for resumption of cruises to Alaska should cruising resume in the U.S. this year."

"CLIA looks forward to working with the Canadian and U.S. authorities on a solution that addresses the public health needs of Americans and Canadians alike, while responsibly restarting a critical economic driver for the Pacific Northwest and Alaska."

The bipartisan letter is the second notable act by Congress to compel Canada to alter the ban.  

Earlier this month, a joint statement by Alaska's Senators and Congressmen called the Canadian cruise ship ban, "unacceptable".

Royal Caribbean has not made an official change to any of its Alaska cruises it has scheduled for 2021.

"At this time, we have decided not to cancel any sailings scheduled to visit Canada," the line said in a letter sent to travel advisors.

"This includes cruises embarking/debarking from Canada ports, as well as those itineraries touching on Canadian ports of call. It's our hope that your clients will maintain their existing reservations with us as we work with the government and CLIA on potential alternatives."

Passengers currently booked on Alaska sailings have several options:

  • Leave their bookings as they are, and wait to see what happens. All final payment dates have been extended to just 45 days prior to embarkation day.
  • Request a 100% refund of the amount they've paid, to the original form of payment, to be processed by June 30, 2021.
  • Choose a 125% future cruise credit (for sailings booked by April 30, 2022, and departing through September 30, 2022). Credits will be issued by April 16, 2021.
  • Select a modified Lift & Shift, allowing the reservation to be moved to the same date next year (plus or minus one week) on the same ship with the same itinerary.

Royal Caribbean removes 2021 Alaska and Canada cruises from website

05 Feb 2021

Less than 24 hours after Canada announced it banned cruise ships for a year, Royal Caribbean's website no longer shows cruises to Alaska or Canada available to book.

Canada announced it was extending its ban on cruise ships for an entire year, through February 2022.

While Royal Caribbean has not officially informed guests that sailings that visit Canada in 2021 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 2021 are available to search, and New England/Canada cruises are also missing from the available cruises to book.

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.

Canada made the sweeping ban on Thursday that prohibits any cruise vessel carrying more than 100 or more people from operating in Canadian waters.

Cruises to Alaska or New England that sail from the United States are required to make at least one stop in a foreign port in order to satisfy U.S. law.

Without the possibility of visiting Canada, the Alaska and New England cruise season is effectively cancelled.

There are only two possible ways these cruises could be salvaged:

First, Canada could lift the cruise ship ban if the health situation improves. Canada added in its announcement that if the global health crisis sufficiently improve to allow the resumption of these activities, the Minister of Transport has the ability to rescind the Interim Orders. 

Second, the U.S. could provide a temporary waiver of the Passenger Vessel Services Act.  The chances of that happening seem low based on recent comments by the new U.S. Transportation Secretary.

During confirmation hearings, Pete Buttigieg told the Senate committee that he supports the Jones Act, which is the part of the law that applies to cargo vessels.

"[The Jones Act] is so important to a maritime industry that creates hundreds of thousands of jobs, as well as a shipbuilding industry here in the U.S.," Buttigieg said in response to questioning from Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Senate Commerce Committee’s ranking member.

Canada bans cruise ships for one year

04 Feb 2021

The 2021 Alaska cruise season looks to be in serious trouble with a new ban just announced.

Canada's Minister of Transport announced on Thursday it has banned all cruise vessels from Canadian waters until February 28, 2022.

Citing the need to keep "Canadians and transportation workers safe and healthy", the government announced two interim orders that prohibit pleasure craft in Canadian Arctic waters and cruise vessels in all Canadian waters until February 28, 2022. 

Specifically, cruise vessels carrying 100 or more people are not allowed in Canadian waters.

According to Canada's government, cruise ships, "pose a risk to our health care systems."

"As Canadians continue to do their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19, our government continues to work hard to ensure Canada’s transportation system remains safe. 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. This is the right and responsible thing to do."

Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra added that if the global health crisis sufficiently improves to allow the resumption of these activities, the Minister of Transport has the ability to rescind the Interim Orders. 

Prior to this extension, Canada's ban on cruise ships was set to expire on February 28, 2021.

Not only does the ban affect Alaska cruises, but New England cruises in the fall visit Canadian ports as well during the popular leaf peeping season.

Just like Alaska cruises, New England cruises rely on a stop in Canada to make the visit legal under U.S. law.

In case you are wondering, the penalties for violating the ban include $5,000 per day for individuals and $25,000 per day for groups or corporations. 

Canada banning cruise ships means cruise lines cannot legally offer cruises to Alaska because of cabotage laws that require a foreign port to be visited during the sailing.

Royal Caribbean has three cruise ships schedule to sail to Alaska in 2021.  Quantum of the Seas already had her entire 2021 cruise season in Alaska cancelled in favor of keeping the ship sailing from Singapore.

Cruises sailing from the United States must adhere to the Passenger Vessel Service Act of 1886 (sometimes referred to as the Jones Act).

Even if the United States allows cruise ships to sail again, they would not be able to sail to Alaska without Canadian waters and ports open to satisfy U.S. cabotage laws.

There is some talk of a temporary amendment to the PVSA to allow cruise ships to depart without a foreign port stop, although there has been no progress made beyond proposals. 

The Greatert Victoria Harbour Authority issued a statement in support of the Canadian government's decision to extend the cruise ship ban.

"Cruise will resume when it is safe to do so, when border restrictions are removed, and when people may safely enjoy non-essential travel."

The port authority did concede the decision will, "create a devastating impact on the dozens of local, small businesses that are involved with cruise in Victoria," due to a combination of no cruise ships in 2020 and now another year without them.

Canada will require tourists to quarantine in hotels in order to discourage international travel

29 Jan 2021

While it remains unclear what will happen with Alaska cruises in 2021, it looks like Canada is not yet moving in a direction friendly to cruises.

The Canadian government has added a mandate for travelers entering the country to quarantine at a hotel at their own expense.

The Canadian government is looking to discourage international travel by adding these tougher rules. By requiring isolation in a hotel instead of a house, it would mean an added expense for travelers to incur.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement on Friday.

"Travelers will then have to wait for up to three days at an approved hotel for their test results, at their own expense, which is expected to be more than $2000," Trudeau said.

"Those with negative test results will then be able to quarantine at home under significantly increased surveillance and enforcement."

The cost includes the hotel stay, as well as a private PCR test, security, food and the cost of measures the designated hotels will have to take to keep their workers safe.

Read moreWill there be any Alaska cruises in 2021?

Canada's new rule mirrors Australia's rule, which requires most travelers to quarantine at a government-arranged hotel for 14 days for $2,800 AUD per adult and $4,620 AUD for a family of four.

The U.K. also introduced a similar rule earlier this week to require citizens arriving from dozens of high-risk countries to quarantine in hotels for 10 days at their own expense.

Since March, Canada has banned non-essential travel into the country by anyone that is not a citizen, as well as banning cruise ships from its waters until at least February 28, 2021.

There is already a rule that requires those entering Canada to self-isolate for 14 days and to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days before arrival. 

Rules like this, as well as the ban on cruise ships, makes operating cruise ships 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.

Read moreComparing the Royal Caribbean ships sailing in Alaska 2021

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.

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