Coronavirus: Canada bans cruise ships until October

Summer and autumn cruising are off the cards for large ships, and Canada's Arctic remains even more restricted

Large cruise ships will not operate in Canadian waters until at least the end of October 2020.

The announcement from the country's transport minister extends previous restrictions on cruise ships that said vessels holding more than 500 passengers were barred from Canada until July.

Marc Garneau, Canada's transport minister, said the order now applies to cruise ships with overnight accommodations and capacity for 100 passengers and crew.

Some smaller cruise shops will be allowed to sail in Canadian waters after July 1. However, routes will be restricted with vessels accommodating more than 123 passengers banned from cruising into the Canadian Arctic.

This is in an effort to protect remote indigenous communities in the north of Canada from Covid-19, and includes coastal waters of Nunatsiavut, Nunavik and the Labrador Coast.

The news quells any hopes tour operators had of salvaging the country's cruising season, which typically runs from late April until late October.

September and October are two of the busiest months for cruise tourism as people travel on New England and Canada sailings to see the famed autumn colours.

In 2019, more than 2 million tourists came through Canadian ports on 140 cruise ships and several cities across the country are set to feel the impact of this ban.

Montreal and Halifax, two of Eastern Canada's largest ports of call, have already been heavily affected by the loss of cruise traffic. The former city is a port of call on several cruise itineraries. Halifax makes up one of the main ports on the traditions week-long Canada and New England cruises that run from Boston and New York.

In British Columbia, the ports of Vancouver and Victoria are also set to lose out on billions of Canadian dollars due to a lack of tourists.

Cities across Canada will feel the impact

Cruising as an industry has been badly hit by the pandemic as hundreds of passengers took ill aboard ships sailing around the world.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship captivated the world as it docked in Japan in February, harbouring Covid-19. To date, the ship ranks 129th on the world ranking of confirmed coronavirus cases, with more cases than many countries, including Jamaica, Tanzania, Malta and Vietnam.

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