Carrying ~1200 passengers (less than 50% of the max capacity), HAL-Holland America’s ms Koningsdam arrived in the capital of the province, marking the return of one of the major tourism drivers in British Columbia.
The return of the industry comes as some experts warned of a 6th COVID wave amid rising hospitalizations and the spread of the Omicron BA.2 subvariant.
The new cruise rules in Canada require all passengers to be COVID-vaccinated and tested.
Saturday’s arrival was hailed by government leaders and businesses, who described the occasion as the much-needed kick-start to the beleaguered tourism economy of the province.
HAL's ms Koningsdam is the first cruise ship to dock in the port city in 905 days.
Victoria Cruise Industry Alliance estimates that cruises inject ~US$130 million annually into the economy of the city. Province-wide, it estimates the cruise industry is worth ~US$1.8 billion to the economy.
Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is expecting to see 350+ ships call this season, carrying ~780,000 passengers, up from the ~709,000 who came through back in 2019.
MS Koningsdam was not meant to be the first cruiser to hit British Columbia's waters in 2022. Princess Cruises’ vessel Caribbean Princess was due to dock in Victoria (April 6) and Vancouver (April 7) but the calls were canceled at the last minute. According to the company, the move was to give extra time for a scheduled drydock on April 7.
However, the vessel had also made it on the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “orange” status list, meaning 0.3% or more of passengers had tested positive for COVID, triggering an investigation.
As of Saturday, a total of 44 out of 102 cruise ships being tracked by the CDC were listed as “orange.”
MS Koningsdam remains listed as “green,” which means there were no reported cases of COVID/COVID-like illnesses.