New Brunswick

More cancellations hit Saint John's COVID-shortened cruise ship season

The 2020 cruise ship season was expected to set records for Saint John, but those hopes are being dashed thanks to COVID-19.

Anticipated banner year now reduced by 80,000 passengers

More cruise ship cancellations to Saint John means a loss of about 80,000 passenger visits to the city. (SJ Port)

The 2020 cruise ship season was expected to set records for Saint John, but those hopes are being dashed thanks to COVID-19.

Most recently, the Sky Princess, the Caribbean Princess, the Carnival Radiance and Holland America's Zaandem — all owned by the Carnival Cruise Line — have cancelled 14 calls to the Port of Saint John between Aug. 2 and Nov. 3.

The cancellations have further eroded a season that was already delayed by the federal government.  

In March, Ottawa announced a ban on cruise ships in Canadian waters until July 1. That effectively took 22 ships off the Saint John schedule between April 24 and June 25.

This second wave of cancellations has reduced the schedule from 90 vessel calls to about 50 vessel calls for a cut of at least 80,000 passengers.

As of March, port officials said they were still hopeful the busiest part of the season might be salvaged. According to the port, two-thirds of its cruise ship business happens in September and October. 

Beth Kelly Hatt, founder of Saint John-based Aquila Tours, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended its no-sail order until July 24.  (Submitted/Aquila Tours)
Beth Kelly Hatt, who founded the Saint John-based Aquila Tours in 1982, said she's never seen anything like this year.  

"I should have retired," she joked.  

Hatt said it's not a good sign that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended its no-sail order until July 24. 

That means no cruise ships can operate in or out of American ports.

"Our home port for most of the ships is New York," said Hatt. "We do have ships that come from Boston, but most of the ships [that visit Saint John] are coming from New York and going toward Montreal or Quebec and those ports are not doing well with the coronavirus.

"So we have to see what happens in New York to see if there is any possibility for the fall."

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