Canada on Saturday will see something it hasn’t seen in more than 900 days — a cruise ship

Apr 8, 2022

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Add Canada to the list of countries that are finally back on the map for cruisers.

The popular cruise destination on Saturday will start welcoming cruise ships for the first time in nearly 2 1/2 years — ending one of the longest and most notable countrywide halts to cruise ship arrivals since the COVID-19 crisis began.

Holland America‘s 2,650-passenger Koningsdam will be the first cruise vessel to visit Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, arriving early Saturday at the British Columbian port of Victoria for a day-long visit.

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Ships from six more cruise lines — Viking, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruise Line — will resume Canada calls over the next three weeks with stops at Victoria and nearby Vancouver in British Columbia.

Several more lines including Carnival Cruise Line and Regent Seven Seas Cruises will restart Canada calls in May with stops in Victoria and Vancouver. Several of the lines and others will also resume calls on the east coast of Canada in May.

Canada banned cruise ship arrivals in March 2020, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the country has not seen cruise ships since long before that, due to the quirks of the Canadian cruise calendar.

Nearly all cruises to Canada take place during a relatively short window between April and October of any given year. As a result, Canada’s ports have not welcomed a cruise ship since October 2019 — six months before the pandemic began. This has resulted in a cruising shutdown in Canada that has lasted about 25% longer than the shutdowns seen in any other major cruise destination.

Koningsdam’s arrival in Victoria on Saturday will mark the port’s first cruise call since Oct. 18, 2019, at the very end of Canada’s 2019 cruise season. It’ll be the first cruise ship to visit Victoria in 905 days.

The ship will arrive in Victoria at the tail end of a seven-night cruise up the California and Oregon coast from San Diego. The cruise ends Sunday in Vancouver, British Columbia — marking the first time a cruise ship has visited that port since the fall of 2019.

Koningsdam will be based in Vancouver for the coming summer for sailings to Alaska. Both Vancouver and Victoria on Canada’s west coast are common stops (or in Vancouver’s case, a home port) for summer voyages to Alaska.

“We are thrilled to be the first cruise line back into Canada after such a long absence, and we look forward to celebrating a great moment for everyone who loves to travel and for those in Canada and Alaska whose livelihoods depend on tourism,” Holland America president Gus Antorcha said in a statement sent to TPG. “Holland America Line has a robust schedule of cruises [planned for 2022] that explore Canadian ports on both coasts with Alaska, Hawaii, transatlantic and Canada and New England itineraries.”

To mark the milestone, Antorcha and local government officials will be on hand in both Victoria and Vancouver over the weekend to celebrate the resumption of Canada cruising.

Holland America is one of the largest operators of cruises that visit the west coast of Canada and Alaska, with six ships based in the region during summers. For the coming season, its vessels are scheduled to call 45 times at Victoria, bringing 75,000 people to the city. Seventy-six Holland America sailings will begin or end in Vancouver, bringing 140,000 people.

On the east coast, Holland America operates two vessels on a seasonal basis on Canada and New England trips between Boston and Quebec City or Montreal.

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Featured photo courtesy of Holland America.

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