The quickly evolving COVID-19 pandemic has forced Princess Cruise Lines to cancel its sailings around the world for the next two months, impacting all voyages on its 18 ships between March 12 and May 10.
For the scheduled sailings from the Canada Place cruise ship terminal in downtown Vancouver, this will mean the cancellation of five of the company’s sailings on three ships.
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The troubled Grand Princess, which is still at port in Oakland, California, in the slow process of screening and unloading its passengers, was originally scheduled to kick off the Port of Vancouver’s 2020 cruise season with its inaugural sailing on April 2. The company’s Diamond Princess also experienced an outbreak just weeks earlier.
This would have been followed by visits from the Star Princess on April 14 and April 30, the Ruby Princess on May 8, and the return of the Grand Princess on May 10.
This affects up to approximately 15,500 passengers, not including the crews of over 1,000 personnel for each vessel.
But at this time, 21 sailings operated by other cruise lines are still scheduled as planned.
For the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, Princess Cruise Lines’ cancellations affect of it scheduled sailings.
Earlier today, Victoria city council approved a resolution calling on the harbour authority and the federal government to cancel cruise ship visits to the city for the foreseeable future.
Both the Port of Vancouver and the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority have stated they are awaiting direction from Transport Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada on procedures and policies for cruise operations.
Across the industry, there have been reports of mounting cancellations by individuals who have already booked their voyages.
Vancouver’s cruise ship industry accounts for a significant proportion of BC’s tourism activity and overnight hotel stays. Each ship that calls at Canada Place creates more than $2 million in local economic activity — everything from passenger spending on retail, restaurants, attractions, and hotels to cruise ship spending on replenishing their food and supplies.
Roughly 350,000 hotel-night stays in Vancouver last year were attributed to the cruise ship operations.
Direct and indirect activities spurred by the cruise industry support about 6,000 jobs, and generate tax revenues for all three levels of government.
During the 2019 cruise season, Vancouver saw about 1.1 million cruise ship passengers on 288 visits across 41 ships. It was an all-time record for Canada Place.