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Canada extends cruise ship ban through October in latest blow to Alaska tourism

Cruise ships line the docks of the Port of Juneau on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 as tourists walk alongside. (James Brooks / ADN)

Canada is extending its ban on large cruise ships through October, Canadian Transportation Minister Marc Garneau said Friday.

That likely will eliminate Alaska’s large-ship tourism season, which ends in September. Under American federal law, foreign-flagged ships traveling between two U.S. ports must also stop in a foreign port.

Most Alaska-bound cruise ships are foreign-flagged. Their routes either begin in Seattle and stop in Canada en route to Alaska, or begin in Canada.

The new Canadian rule states: “Cruise ships with overnight accommodations allowed to carry more than 100 persons are prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until October 31, 2020.”

Canada previously announced a ban through July 1 as a public health precaution during the coronavirus pandemic. Cruise ship operators have already canceled vast numbers of sailings to Alaska, which had been expecting nearly 1.5 million tourists this summer.

The United States has a no-sail order of its own that runs through July 24, and the Port of Seattle has closed access “indefinitely.”

According to figures published Thursday by Kirby Day of Holland America-Princess, 556 voyages capable of carrying 1.09 million tourists have already been canceled. That accounts for 89% of the summer’s scheduled voyages.

American Cruise Lines, which operates a fleet of small American-flagged ships, has said it will sail to Alaska in late June. Other small-ship operators not covered by the Canadian ban have canceled all sailings before July.

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