Skip to content

Alaska cruise season could be postponed as Canada bans big ships

March 13, 2020
4 min read
Alaska cruise season could be postponed as Canada bans big ships
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Canada is joining the growing list of countries banning cruise ships from visiting its ports -- a move that could mean the postponement of the Alaska cruise season for most lines.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement on Friday at a press conference. He said Canada would not allow cruise ships to stop in the country's ports through at least July 1. The measure is designed to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Small vessels that carry fewer than 500 people, including crew, are exempt.

Visit TPG’s guide to all coronavirus news and updates

The ban could force most cruise lines to cancel upcoming sailings to Alaska, as many 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 Cruises, Holland America, Royal 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.

Only a waiver of the law, or some other sort of scheme involving "technical" stops without landings in Canada for the foreign-flagged ships, would allow for continued Alaska cruises 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.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Many cruises to Alaska start and end in Seattle, and include a Canada stop along the way. Others begin or end in Vancouver, British Columbia. San Francisco and Los Angeles also are major gateways for Alaska cruises that include a Canada stop.

"Canada's banning cruise ships is huge, particularly with the concerns of cruising out of Seattle already arising and, of course, the Europe travel situation," said Mike Driscoll, editor of industry publication Cruise Week. "Cruise lines have always been able to move ships to other places when problems arise. That is no longer the case."

Related: As coronavirus spreads, more ports turns away cruise ships

Trudeau's announcement came just weeks before the Alaska cruise season was scheduled to begin. Cruise ships typically start arriving in Alaska in early April and remain in the region through September.

A spokesperson for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) did not immediately respond to a TPG request for comment.

Related: The extreme measures cruise lines are taking as coronavirus spreads

In addition to Alaska cruises, Canada's ban on cruise ship arrivals also will affect voyages to the East Coast of Canada.

In a tweet Friday afternoon, Canada's transport minister, Marc Garneau, said the ban on cruise ships would extend for the entire summer in Canada's northern and Arctic ports. He also said it would apply to cruise ships of all sizes in the north, not just big cruise ships.

The outright ban on cruise ship stops in northern and Arctic ports likely means an end for now to sailings through the fabled Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic. Several companies that operate small, expedition-style vessels such as Ponant, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Adventure Canada have a specialty in such trips.

Garneau also said the Canadian government would have special rules for the smaller cruise vessels that still will be allowed to visit Canadian ports in the southern parts of the country. The special rules also will apply to ferries, which will be allowed to continue operating.

"For ferries and smaller vessels," Garneau said, "we are developing strengthened health measures and approaches."

More than 40 cruise ships are scheduled to sail more than 600 voyages to Alaska this year. CLIA has projected around 1.4 million people would take an Alaska cruise.

Additional resources for traveling during the coronavirus outbreak:

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises)

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023