Government of Canada announces intention to defer the start of cruise ship season in Canada as COVID-19 response measure

News release

March 13, 2020           Ottawa          Transport Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada

Ensuring the safety and security of Canadians is the Government of Canada’s top priority.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a comprehensive $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund in response to the pandemic. The Fund will help put in place the plans, infrastructure, and resources needed to protect the health and safety of all Canadians.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer has issued a formal health advisory, recommending that Canadians avoid going on cruise ships at this time. The health risk is for all the people touched by the cruise ship industry in Canada.

To further complement these measures, today the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, announced the implementation of new measures pertaining to cruise ships in Canadian waters.

In 2019, Canada welcomed over 140 cruise ships that came to our shores directly from more than 10 different countries. The cruise industry brings at least 2 million travellers to our coasts annually.

As a response to COVID-19, the Government of Canada will defer the start of the cruise ship season in Canada, from April 2, 2020, to July 1, 2020, at the earliest. This deferral will apply to cruise ships capable of carrying more than 500 passengers and crew members.

Given the limited public health capacity in Canada’s Northern communities, the cruise ship season for vessels with Canadian Arctic stops will be deferred for the entire season this year. This would apply to cruise ships of all sizes.

While this measure does not apply to ferries or smaller vessels at this time, the Government of Canada is also developing an approach to ensure health measures are strengthened in all passenger vessels across Canada.

The Government of Canada recognizes that COVID-19 is having a major impact on the economy and communities across Canada. We are continually assessing the risks of the COVID-19 based on science and evidence, and consulting with our government, industry and regional health partners. Further decisions on whether the season can resume on July 1, 2020, will be based on science and evidence in the best interests of the health and safety of Canadians

The Government of Canada will continue to engage with the Tourism sector and regional partners to understand the effects of COVID-19 on local businesses and their employees.

These measures are part of a larger strategy the Government of Canada is implementing that prioritizes the health and safety of Canadians, ensures the capacity of the public health-care system, aligns Canada’s international and domestic approaches, and strives to mitigate the health and economic impacts in Canada.

Canadians who are planning to travel abroad are reminded to consult the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories and register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service.


“The safety and security of Canadians is a top priority. There is no immediate solution to allow cruise ships to operate in Canada while adequately containing the public health risk associated with COVID-19, other than delaying the start of the cruise ship season. We do not take these decisions lightly and will continue to reassess as the situation evolves.”

Minister of Transport
The Honourable Marc Garneau

“The health and safety of all Canadians—both those abroad and in Canada—is our top priority. With this delay in allowing cruise ships to dock in our ports, we can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. We also advise Canadians to avoid all travel on cruise ships because of the ongoing outbreak.”

Minister of Health
The Honourable Patti Hajdu

Associated links


Livia Belcea
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

Cole Davidson
Office of the Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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