Canada's Cruise Ban Is Causing Alaska Cruise Cancellations

Cruise lines are beginning to cancel their 2021 Alaska sailings

Cruise ship in Alaska

John Elk/Getty Images

On Feb. 4, 2021, the Canadian Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra announced that Canada was extending its ban on cruise ships carrying more than 100 people from its waters for all of 2021 and until Feb. 28, 2022 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, cruise lines are starting to cancel their 2021 Alaska sailings.

Holland America, Princess Cruises, and Seabourn (all owned by the same parent company, Carnival Corp.) announced on Feb. 24 that they were canceling many scheduled Alaska and British Columbia sailings for 2021 because of Canada’s decision. You're likely wondering: why are Alaskan cruises affected by Canada’s decision?

All foreign-flagged cruise ships, by law, can only cruise in American waters if they also stop at a foreign port. Practically, Canada is the most sensible foreign port to stop in for Alaskan cruises, so stops in Canadian ports are always included in an Alaska cruise itinerary for foreign-flagged ships. Most cruise lines flag their ships in foreign countries for various reasons, including major players like Princess Cruises, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line.

“Our highest priorities are compliance, environmental protection, and the health, safety, and well-being of our guests, crew, and the people in destinations we visit,” said Josh Leibowitz, president of Seabourn, in a statement. “We have heard from many guests, and they are eager to travel, seeing positive developments starting to take hold that will eventually lead to our return to service.”

Seabourn is canceling all of their cruises in the state—a total of 19 voyages—and automatically rebooking customers on 2022 sailings; however, they can elect to receive a refund instead.

Holland America is canceling Alaska sailings aboard its Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, and Zuiderdam ships, three Canada/New England, two Pacific Coastal cruises, and all Land+Sea Journeys. However, the company is not canceling all of its Alaska voyages just yet. Trips to Alaska sailing roundtrip from Seattle are not being canceled, and the company announced that discussions are underway with the Canadian and United States governments to try to resolve the issues and preserve these sailings. Holland America is also automatically rebooking customers for canceled voyages on comparable 2022 sailings, but they too can receive refunds if they choose.

Princess Cruises reports it is also actively engaged in discussions to try and remedy the situation, but as of now, they have canceled their seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruises that sails between Vancouver, B.C., and Anchorage; Pacific Coastal cruises that start or end in Vancouver; and any Canadian Adventure sailing roundtrip from Southampton, in the United Kingdom. Guests will automatically be rebooked for 2022 voyages and can request a refund. Princess also announced it would keep its three Alaska land-based hotels (Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge, McKinley Chalet Resort in Denali, and Westmark Fairbanks Hotel) open this summer.

U.S.-flagged ships like Alaskan Dream Cruises, Lindblad Expeditions, UnCruise, and American Cruise Lines will still operate in Alaska and have voyages scheduled for 2021.

Cruise lines worldwide were forced to suspend all departures in March 2020 due to the pandemic, and many have not restarted operations yet. Several, including Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Windstar, and Disney Cruise Lines, recently extended their pauses on operation, with many canceling sailings they had scheduled for April and May, with more likely to follow. At the end of last year, CDC recommended people avoid cruises right now.

Article Sources
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  1. Carnival Cruise Line. "Passenger Vessel Services Act." Retrieved February 26, 2021.

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