This small cruise line is the first to cancel all its sailings for 2021

Feb 9, 2021

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For one small cruise operator, the 2021 season is over before it even began.

Adventure Canada, a one-ship company based in Mississauga, Ontario that’s famous for its expedition cruises in the Canadian Arctic, has canceled all its sailings for the rest of the year.

The company suggested Canada‘s just-announced extended ban on cruise vessels operating in Canadian waters (including the Canadian Arctic) left it no choice.

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“Due to the news of this continued ban, as well as the ongoing uncertainty around international and domestic cruise travel, Adventure Canada has made the difficult but necessary decision to cancel our entire 2021 sailing season,” Adventure Canada CEO Cedar Swan said in a statement sent to The Points Guy.

It’s “a privilege to travel in the incredible regions that we do, and we are committed to doing so responsibly,” Swan said. “By proceeding with the utmost caution, especially to ensure the safety of our host communities, we know that one day we will be able to travel together again — safely, conscientiously and enjoyably.”

In a blow to the cruise industry’s efforts to restart operations in North America this year, the Canadian government last week banned cruise ships from its waters through Feb. 28, 2022. The government cited the ongoing coronavirus pandemic for the move.

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Adventure Canada offers adventurous cruises in the Canadian Arctic on a single vessel, the 199-passenger Ocean Endeavour. (Photo by Reimar/Shutterstock.com)

The Canadian ban applies to any cruise vessel carrying 100 or more people and has additional provisions for even smaller vessels operating in Arctic regions.

Adventure Canada offers cruises in the Canadian Arctic and other areas around Canada on the Ocean Endeavour, which typically sails with up to 199 passengers.

Adventure Canada is the first cruise operator still in business to cancel all its sailings for 2021. Seven other mostly small cruise operators have gone out of business since the pandemic began.

Related: The coronavirus claims its first U.S.-based cruise line

Adventure Canada said the company was “in a solid position to weather the disruption that the global pandemic has had on the travel industry.”

In her statement, Swan said she supported the Canadian cruise ban.

“Out of respect for the health and wellbeing of all involved, particularly that of our valued community hosts, Adventure Canada genuinely supports this decision. We care deeply about the places we travel to and the people who travel with us, all of whom we consider part of the extended Adventure Canada family. The safety of our guests, community partners, expedition team and crew is of utmost priority,” she said.

Adventure Canada is known for some of the most adventurous and diverse ship-based trips around Canada, including lengthy voyages through the famed Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic and circumnavigations of Newfoundland.

The company also offers itineraries that combine exploring along the remote coast of Labrador with adventurous cruising along the west coast of Greenland.

Ocean Endeavour is outfitted with Zodiac boats that Adventure Canada uses to take passengers ashore for exploring in remote Arctic regions. It sails with an unusually large contingent of onboard experts who lecture on board and lead exploratory landings, including specialists in geology, biology, ornithology and history.

Adventure Canada said it would resume Canada trips in 2022.

In addition to forcing Adventure Canada to shut down for the year, Canada’s ban on cruise ships is likely to force most cruise lines to cancel all 2021 sailings to Alaska. That’s because most cruise lines rely on Canadian ports to make Alaska itineraries viable.

By law, foreign-flagged cruise ships cannot cruise in American waters without stopping at least once per voyage at a foreign port. What this means for Alaska cruising, on a practical level, is that the ships operated by Princess CruisesHolland AmericaRoyal Caribbean and most other big players in the region cannot cruise there unless their itineraries include at least one stop in Canada. Most big cruise lines flag their ships in foreign countries.

Related: Another small cruise operator folds as cruising shutdown continues

Only a waiver of the law would allow for continued Alaska cruises this year by the big lines.

U.S.-flagged vessels, such as those operated by small-ship cruise operators UnCruise Adventures, Alaskan Dream Cruises, Lindblad Expeditions and American Cruise Lines, still will be able to operate in Alaska this year. But together they account for fewer than 2% of all Alaska sailings.

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Featured image by Lorraine Boogich/Getty Images.

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