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Port of Halifax CEO says he expects no cruise ships in 2020 season

PortandTerminal.com, May 20, 2020

“At this stage, I would have to say the outlook for cruise is quite bleak,” Captain Allan Gray, the Port of Halifax president and CEO said today at the Port of Halifax’s annual general meeting.

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA – The Port of Halifax president and CEO, Captain Allan Gray, said today that his team is planning for a summer season with zero cruise traffic.

“Our expectation and our budgeting is working on the fact that we won’t see a return of cruise [ships] in 2020,” Gray said this morning at the Port of Halifax’s annual general meeting.

Officially, Halifax’s cruise season has been “deferred” until July 1, following public health orders from the federal government.

READ: Halifax to delay start of the cruise ship season

Only about 50 percent of the scheduled cruise stops in the city has officially been cancelled. However, cruise ship bans from other countries and the industry’s hesitation to put ships back in service mean most cruises are unlikely to happen this year.

Cruise lines cancelling visits

While technically cruising is allowed in the U.S. after July 24, Norwegian Cruise Lines said today its fleet will remain docked until at least the beginning of August.

As with most Covid-19-related stoppages, those timelines could easily be extended. “At this stage, I would have to say the outlook for cruise is quite bleak,” Gray said.

2020 was supposed to be a big year

In March, just before the federal government banned cruise ships from entering Canada, a record 208 ships were scheduled to dock in Halifax. Port spokesperson Lane Farguson said those ships would have brought more than 350,000 tourists to the city.

Halifax is not alone in its cruise tourism misery this season. Earlier this week on Canada’s Pacific coast, British Columbia Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry said that cruise ships are not welcome this year. Cruise ships will be allowed to stop for refuelling but passengers not permitted to get off the ship she said.

Businesses in both British Columbia and Nova Scotia will suffer badly. Cruising has grown annually in Canada and contributed $4.1 billion of economic impact in 2018, up from $3.2 billion two years earlier.

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