The Covid-19 pandemic has caused havoc with travel plans for the best part of a year now, with millions of travelers forced to admit defeat and cancel trips that had been years in the making. Whilst airlines cancelling trips and facing financial difficulties may have taken the most column inches in the press, other travel industries are feeling the pressure too – and that’s certainly the case in the cruise industry.
Whilst several cruise lines have cancelled trips due to government action, Royal Caribbean has bucked the trend, and has stated it will not cancel its trips to Alaska – despite a ban from the Canadian government.
Canada Bans Large Cruise Ships – Re-cap For Travelers
Often an overlooked casualty of the pandemic, cruise lines were dealt a blow at the beginning of February when the Canadian government issued an order that prohibited cruise vessels from Canadian waters.
Canada had originally banned cruise ships over 100 people in June last year, dealing a huge blow to the industry as the country tried to contain the spread of Covid-19. This month’s news however has left holidaymakers and cruise lines reeling, as it was announced the ban on cruise vessels would not just last a few months, but until February 2022.
According to Canada’s Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, the temporary ban has been put into place in order to “protect the most vulnerable among our communities and avoid overwhelming our health care systems.” The full details of the orders are as follows:
- Adventure-seeking pleasure craft are still prohibited from entering Arctic waters
- Passenger vessels carrying more than 12 people are still prohibited from entering Arctic coastal waters, including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, and the Labrador Coast
- Cruise vessels carrying more than 100 people are still prohibited from operating in Canadian waters
As a result, many cruise lines have begun removing trips to Alaska from their websites, as travelers will be seemingly unable to visit.
Royal Caribbean Refuses To Cancel
Whilst some cruise lines have canceled their upcoming trips to Alaska and Canada, Royal Caribbean has decided against canceling trips departing from any ports including Canada. The company has announced that it is communicating with the Canadian government to discuss potential options on how to proceed from here. The company is also working with the US government and Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) to try and find alternative arrangements to allow cruises to sail through when it is safe to do so.
The decision to ban cruise lines from entering Canada has been criticized by several different groups. Senators from Alaska expressed their disappointment at not being consulted on the decision, and stated that they’re fighting to find a path forward to ensure the cruise industry could resume as soon as possible. Those with businesses in Alaska also expressed their shock and disappointment towards the decision. Traffic from cruise lines can make up the majority of many local business’ income, and this would be the second year in a row that businesses are having to go without. Cruises to Alaska usually make port stops or depart from Vancouver, Canada and sail through Canadian waters.
Royal Caribbean’s Refund Options
Whilst Royal Caribbean will not be cancelling trips, they have revealed their refund options for those who do wish to cancel. The options are as follows:
- Option 1: Move the voyage to the same voyage next year ± 1 week
- Option 2: Receive a 125% future cruise credit
- Option 3: receive a 100% refund of amounts paid, valid through June 30, 2021
- Option 4: Keep the same reservation, and receive the opportunity to pay 45 days prior to sailing
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories