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Canada extends cruise ship ban into 2022, a blow to Alaska's tourism industry

"Cruise vessels in Canadian waters pose a risk to our health care systems."

Updated: February 5, 2021 - 1:43pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

No cruise ships will be allowed in Canadian waters until at least Feb. 2022, the Canadian government announced on Thursday, meaning Alaska trips will remain cancelled, which will be a significant blow to the state's tourism industry. 

Of the roughly 1.3 million tourists that visited Alaska two years ago, the majority arrived by cruise ship. Because almost all large cruise ships heading to Alaska start in Canada or stop there along the way, and also travel through Canadian waters, it will be impossible for cruise companies to resume excursions with the recent announcement.

"Any idea that there could be some kind of workaround is off the table now, because the Canadian government has stated very clearly that cruise ships will not even be allowed in Canadian waters," Skagway, Alaska Mayor Andrew Cremata said.

The cruise ship restrictions were scheduled to expire at the end of the month. But with the further-extended measures, Alaskan port communities that make a living off of tourism will not be able to rely on visitors anytime soon.

In a news release, Transport Canada says "cruise vessels in Canadian waters pose a risk to our health care systems."

Any recreational ships caught not following the protocols could be subject to fines up to one million dollars or jail time and any passenger vessels traveling with more than 12 people will be banned from the Arctic Coastal waters.

The government will continue to monitor health conditions and make changes as necessary.