Cape Breton and Halifax ports can plan for 2022 season with cruise ship ban ending


SYDNEY, N.S. — The recent decision to allow cruise ships back into Canadian waters in November will result in smoother sailing for Nova Scotia port authorities.

Last week, federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra lifted a previous ban on cruise ship visits until February 2022, announcing that vessels can now return on Nov. 1, 2021.

Marlene Usher, CEO of the Port of Sydney Development Corp., said while that doesn’t mean ships will be docking in Sydney harbour this season, it’s now much easier to plan for next year.

“We do have 100-plus bookings for 2022, but until then it was open — it was difficult to do the communication and protocols,” she said. “Now we’re knee-deep in devolving a plan for cruise resumption.”

Usher said the cruise ship industry not only brings in about $3 million in direct revenue to the port, the overall spinoffs to downtown stores, restaurants, pubs and tours are estimated to be more than $55 million each year.

“We are very happy with the announcement,” she said, adding that Nova Scotia’s scenery, hospitality and reputation for controlling the COVID-19 pandemic will allow the industry to rebound quickly.

“I think our recovery will be much quicker than previously thought.”

Port of Halifax spokesperson Lane Farguson said the cruise ship industry is worth an estimated $165 million to the Halifax Regional Municipality and surrounding areas. Many ships also stock up on regional provisions such as Nova Scotia lobster and wine as part of the Atlantic Canadian experience when they drop anchor in Halifax.

“That’s the hole that’s been left in the economy as the result of no cruise ship sailings in the past couple of years,” he said.

Like Usher, he said the announcement to allow cruise ships to return earlier than expected will help the Port of Halifax and ports across the region to better navigate the 2022 season.