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Canada reveals rules for 2022 cruise season

Passengers must be vaccinated and tested before boarding and disembarking ships
Vancouver is expecting 310 cruise ship calls for the 2022 season.

Canada last year announced that its ports were once again open to welcome cruise ships, as long as those ships followed COVID-19 health and safety regulations.

What kept the industry on edge is that the government did not say exactly what those regulations would be.

That changed today, when Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced a set of rules for cruise passengers, including that they must be vaccinated and tested for COVID-19 before they board ships.

Those passengers must also be tested when their ship returns to Canadian waters after sailing into another territory.

Antigen tests must be taken within one calendar day, while more accurate and expensive PCR tests could be taken within three calendar days of boarding.

Test results must be uploaded to the ArriveCan app, which could prove tricky for those on board the ships for the return leg of journeys from Alaska, Cruise Lines International Association - North West and Canada spokesman Barry Penner told BIV.

"When the ships are a calendar day before arriving in Vancouver or Victoria, they are somewhere between Haida Gwaii and northern Vancouver Island," he said.

"There's very limited cell phone coverage in that area. So you'll be having to connect to the ship Wi-Fi to upload your results. It could become a bit time consuming for 2,000 people doing this on the same day before they arrive in Vancouver."

The first cruise ships of the season arrive in Victoria on April 6, and in Vancouver on April 7.

Cruise lines have been holding back on selling every available cabin in order to enhance social distancing, Penner said, although he said that capacity on ships may increase as the season progresses.

"I wouldn't expect the first ships arriving in Vancouver to be as full as they were in 2019," he said. "That means with fewer passengers, initially, there won't be the same number of tourists coming to spend money, per ship, as there was in 2019. It's going to take a while to ramp things up."

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority said last month that it expected a total of 310 cruise ship calls in the 2022 season – up 7.6 per cent from the 288 calls recorded in 2019.

Penner said his industry is looking forward to rebuilding what pre-pandemic was 17,000 jobs in B.C. that depended on the cruise industry.

Helping the industry get there is that Alghabra today lifted the federal government's official advisory warning Canadians against going on international cruises. The government in recent weeks lifted its advisory against all foreign travel except for that on cruise ships

Advice now is to "practise special precautions," when travelling internationally.


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