Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

John Campbell, owner of the Sou’Wester Restaurant and Gift Shop in Peggy's Cove, N.S., seen here on May 15, 2020, believes there’s less than a 50-per-cent chance that cruises will make an appearance at all this season, which would force him to rely only on local or regional traffic.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Picturesque Peggy’s Cove, N.S., is normally a great place to run a business but restaurant owner John Campbell hopes he can survive the cancellation of cruise ships this season because of COVID-19.

“I’m doing everything I can to survive but there’s a lot of companies that are going to be in big trouble for sure,” he said.

The Sou’Wester Gift & Restaurant Co. has been attracting customers for more than 50 years. Campbell said it’s not unusual to have scores of buses filled with cruise passengers stop at the business founded by his father each fall day when cruises peak.

Story continues below advertisement

The kickoff to his summer in Nova Scotia and at a gift shop that he owns on Prince Edward Island was delayed because the U.S. border is closed.

Revenue is expected to be cut by at least half this year after four cruise lines — Holland America, Princess Cruises, Seabourn Cruises and Carnival Cruises — cancelled calls to Canada and Alaska this season. In addition, the federal government has imposed a ban on cruises through at least July 1 that will reduce the number of visitors.

Mr. Campbell believes there’s less than a 50-per-cent chance that cruises will make an appearance at all this season, which would force him to rely only on local or regional traffic.

“If we only have Nova Scotia people allowed to come out here I think the reduction will be more than 50 per cent. I think it’ll be ... 60 to 70 per cent, so, it’s going to be devastating.”

Cruising has grown annually in Canada and contributed $4.1-billion of economic impact in 2018, up from $3.2-billion two years earlier.

In Atlantic Canada, 873,000 passengers generated more than $373-million in direct and indirect impact to the economies of the four provinces last year, says Jeff Stevens, executive director of the Atlantic Canada Cruise Association.

Before COVID-19, the number of passengers to Atlantic Canada was forecast to grow 14 per cent to about one million in 2020.

Story continues below advertisement

The estimated impact to B.C. from the delayed season is nearly $1.5-billion, according to the Port of Vancouver. Every ship that docks in Vancouver contributes about $3.3-million to the local economy while Greater Victoria saw a $100-million economic impact and 700 jobs from cruising in 2018.

The economic damage from COVID-19 is unprecedented, said Donna Spalding of Cruise Lines International Association — North West & Canada

“I have never seen anything that has impacted cruising and tourism overall, for that matter, in the way that this has if we think of the impact on our day-to-day lives,” she said from Vancouver.

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Marc Garneau declined to say if the July 1 ban will be extended.

“The Government of Canada is looking at all available options for this year’s cruise ship season and will be guided by public health advice,” Livia Belcea wrote in an e-mail.

Ms. Spalding said there’s no doubt that the suspension will hurt Canadian jobs and families but it will especially have a significant impact on small communities and tourism partners that rely on cruise tourism.

Story continues below advertisement

“And they may not be able to get through a whole year and be viable again next year,” she said.

The pain could be significant for tour operators in port cities, says Dennis Campbell of Ambassatours Gray Line, which operates boat tours in all four Atlantic provinces, offers bus tours in Niagara Falls, Ont., and runs Halifax’s largest waterfront restaurant.

He said half his marine fleet will be docked if the ban on cruises into Canada is extended, while amphibious vessels that operate on land or water will continue this summer.

But he expects to lose one-third of his revenue if no ships arrive in eastern ports at all this year.

The Port in Charlottetown says the cruise cancellations mean its season will only begin in September, if at all, said Corryn Clemence, cruise development, communications and brand manager for the PEI port.

“We have a lot of small operators that rely heavily on this business throughout the season. So I think the ripple effect, not just from a port standpoint, but from the tourism operators standpoint is massive.”

Story continues below advertisement

Dawson City may be far from the ocean but it also expects to feel the pain after Holland America cancelled its trips to Alaska with about 15,000 passengers flying over three months each summer to the Yukon town for two days.

An estimated $10-million is brought into the town in addition to about 100 people who are hired at the cruise line’s Westmark Hotel, that won’t open this year. The Klondike Spirit, a paddle boat that travels up the river, won’t be operating because of the loss of its primary customer base.

“The smaller businesses will be the ones that suffer the most throughout it. They have less resources than the big businesses to survive through this,” said Paul Robitaille of the Klondike Visitors Association.

The town, founded in 1896 during the Gold Rush, will survive without the cruise line, he said, but the town will be totally different because the cruise business accounts for 15 to 20 per cent of summer tourism.

“It’s already shot for this year, so hopefully they don’t ban until next year at some point which would hurt us as well,” he said.

Despite the challenges, Mr. Robitaille’s hopeful that cruises will eventually return, noting it’s a resilient industry that attracts people, some of whom only travel by cruise.

Story continues below advertisement

“I think that they’ve got the money to make the changes necessary to kind of face the restrictions that might be imposed on the industry and if anything ... they have more resources to come out of this than small businesses do.”

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies