December 2, 2023

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Cruise ships return to Canada for first time in two years

Saturday was the first time a cruise ship has docked within Canada in over 905 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Holland America’s ship the Koningsdam was the first to return to Canadian waters since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. The ship docked in Victoria British Columbia on Saturday, containing roughly 1,200 passengers.

The ban which prevented cruise ships from docking in Canada was put into place in March 2020. Last July, Canada cut its ban, which would allow ships to begin cruising November 2021. However, cruise lines had not yet sailed into Canada until now, due to the policy change happening too late for the 2021 cruising season within Canada.

This is due to the fact that the cruise industry typically only sails within Canada during the summer months, however with the ban lifted, this year Holland America has decided to begin sailing early in Canada.

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is expecting to attend to more than 350 cruise ships this season, bringing in roughly 780,000 passengers. This is an increase in pre-pandemic numbers, up from about 709,000 passengers who visited Victoria B.C in 2019.

The return of cruising to Canada marks the return of one of Canada’s major tourism sectors. Prior to the pandemic in 2020, the cruise industry contributed to more than $4 billion annually to the Canadian economy. As well as provided more than 30,000 jobs, said Beth Potter, the CEO of Tourism Industry Association of Canada.

The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure of Canada, Rob Fleming, celebrates the return of cruise ships to Canadian waters in a statement, “we know that cruise ship passengers enjoy everything our communities have to offer, helping support thousands of jobs in maritime, tourism, hospitality, and agricultural sectors across the province.”

The Koningsdam also docked in Vancouver Canada on Sunday. The stop in both Victoria and Vancouver was part of a west coast sailing itinerary that departed from San Diego. Once the Koningsdam reached Vancouver, it then set sail on a roundtrip sailing to Hawaii.

The cruise line Holland America alone, expects to bring about 250,000 passengers into Canada during the 2022 cruising season. This is aboard eight different ships, that will operate 141 cruise sailings.

Holland America celebrates its return to Canada in a statement from president of the cruise line, Gus Antorcha, “we are thrilled to be the first cruise line back into Canada after such a long absence, and we look forward to celebrating a great moment for everyone who loves to travel and for those in Canada and Alaska whose livelihoods depend on tourism.”