One popular cruise destination is questioning whether its port would open at all in 2021. Unfortunately, because the cruise port is the one located in Victoria, British Columbia, it could have a far-reaching impact when it comes to the 2021 Alaska cruise season.
CEO of the Greater Victoria Harbor Authority, Ian Robertson, expressed his concerns last week. The fact that parts of the world, and in particular the United States, have struggled to get the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis under control is raising red flags and, as a result, Robertson is not sure what to expect moving forward.
“In the spring, I felt positive about cruising returning in some form or another in 2021,” he said. “I have a little bit more cautious optimism as we speak.”
Before the cruise port can welcome back ships, he added that "a lot needs to change.”
While no one is saying the 2021 season will not happen, Robertson is taking a “wait and see” approach while keeping an eye on various developments around the world. He said they would get a good sense of what the cruise season would look like and what protocols they put in place once they started sailing again.
Shortly after the industry-wide shut down in March, Canada put a ban in place for large ships. Until and unless the ban is lifted, it has the effect of shutting down a large portion of Alaska-bound sailings because many set sail from ports such as Seattle WA, using a stop in Victoria BC to fulfill the requirement that foreign-flagged vessels sailing from US ports must visit another country prior to returning home.
The extended closure has had a massive impact on the economy of Victoria. The port expected to welcome about 300 ships and 800,000+ passengers this year alone, which would have pumped around US$130 million into the local economy. The harbor is also suffering major losses, given that it's not taking in the per-passenger fees that it uses to fund local amenities.