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Coronavirus to slash Atlantic Canada’s cruise season

Cruise ship season to be delayed in Saint John
WATCH: Part of the federal measures announced Friday took the port of Saint John by surprise. As Travis Fortnum reports, officials had been planning for a record year.

New federal restrictions on cruise ships are set to wreak havoc with Eastern Canada’s cruise ship season, with thousands of expected visitors no longer permitted to dock in Canada.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced on Friday that no cruise ships carrying more than 500 people will be allowed to dock in Canada until at least July 1.

The restrictions will affect cruise ships as well as international ferry services such as the Yarmouth-to-Maine ferry.

READ MORE: Canadians should postpone, cancel non-essential foreign travel amid coronavirus, say officials

The ferry season for Port Saint John, the Port of Halifax and the Port of Sydney normally gets underway in late April.

Each location was expecting the 2020 season to bring record numbers to their respective ports of call.

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Earlier this month, the CEO of Port Saint John told Global News that they were expecting 90 ships and more than 225,000 passengers and crew. The Port of Halifax was expecting 208 more than 350,000 passengers and crew.

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Those figures are now in question.

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The Port of Sydney said in a statement that they will lose out on 22 visits and 32,288 passengers as a result of the restriction.

“This decision increases community safety but does have a negative economic impact for the many individuals and businesses who rely on tourism income,” the Port of Sydney wrote in a press release.

A cruise ship schedule posted on the Halifax Seaport website indicates that the Port of Halifax is about to lose out on 36 visits carrying 72,045 passengers.

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Lane Farguson, a spokesperson for the Port of Halifax, said they’ll communicate with cruise lines and their partners to adjust schedules.

“The health and well-being of our cruise guests and seafarers, our vendors, our staff and the greater public is our priority,” said Farguson.

Port Saint John confirmed they will miss out on 18 ships carrying approximately 41,600 passengers, as a result of the changes.

“This is an unprecedented situation and decisions such as these are made with the health and safety of all Canadians in mind,” said Becky Knox, a spokesperson for Port Saint John, in a statement.

With files from The Canadian Press