Canada commits to reopening ports to cruise ships; Murkowski proposes maritime law reforms

Canadian authorities have announced that they will lift the ban on cruise ships in the country’s waters during the time of the pandemic, but not before the end of the 2021 cruise season in Alaska. But cruise ships could once again sail from Vancouver and Victoria to Alaska in 2022.

The Norwegian Bliss prepares to depart Juneau on June 5, 2018. (Adelyn Baxter/KTOO)

“While Canadians have done their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19, our government continues to work hard to safely restart our economy and build back better. We will welcome cruise ships – an important part of our tourism sector – back to Canadian waters for the 2022 season,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in a statement.

Until this year, large foreign-registered cruise ships were required to stop in Canada between Seattle and Alaska to comply with federal law. But after Canada extended its cruise ship ban through the 2021 summer cruise season, Congress granted a temporary waiver to allow cruise ships to bypass a foreign port of call.

The law that needed to be lifted was the Passenger Vessel Services Act or PVSA. It requires that passenger ships sailing between domestic ports be built, owned and manned by Americans. It is intended to protect America’s shipbuilding and transportation industries.

The waiver expires when Canadian ports reopen. But at an event last week in Ketchikan, Senator Lisa Murkowski said it might be time to change the law.

“I’m working with colleagues as we speak to look at some of the reforms we could put in place and how we can better ensure that when we talk about American economies, it’s not just about shipbuilding and jobs. in the cruise industry. , but it’s also the importance of protecting local economies,” Murkowski said.

Murkowski said his efforts were limited to the PVSA; she said she was not pushing for reforms to the Jones Act which restricts the movement of goods between US ports.

Ports across Canada reopen to cruise ships on November 1.