MUSKEGON, MI – A Canadian ban on cruise lines in the Great Lakes could have a direct impact on Muskegon’s summer tourism.

It is currently unclear whether the cruise ships scheduled to stop in Muskegon port in 2021 will be canceled. At least one cruise line told MLive / Muskegon Chronicle that they will keep their scheduled visits to Muskegon this summer.

Great Lakes cruise lines are still debating whether to save their summer season after the Canadian government decided to extend the cruise ban for another year until February 28, 2022.

The port of Muskegon should receive 25 calls this year from cruise lines between Canada and the United States. The ban could have an impact on the city’s summer tourism, which benefits from each ship bringing 200 passengers to the region.

The order, announced last week Canadian Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, bans cruise ships of 100+ people from operating in Canadian waters to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s a big blow to Muskegon County’s tourism for 2021,” said Bob Lukens, Muskegon County’s community development director. “But it’s understandable. We are in the middle of a pandemic. “

The length of the ban surprised them Cruise Industry Trade Associationwhich urges the Canadian government to “rethink the timeline”.

Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Larsen said business leaders were looking forward to a strong summer and are now “working on a solution” to bring the season back.

Connected: Muskegon County’s pandemic recovery expected by late 2022, says economist

Three Great Lakes cruise lines – Pearl Seas, Victory Cruise Lines, and Ponant – are planned for Muskegon this year, according to Lukens.

At least one cruise line, Pearl Seas, plans to keep their itineraries for the summer. The company operates the Pearl Mist on the Great Lakes. Calls are planned to Muskegon from May to July.

Victory Cruise Lines, which are bringing Victory I and Victory II to Muskegon, have not yet been able to confirm their plans. But CEO John Wagoner said in a statement that the company’s officials “will continue to work with government officials, other cruise lines and travel partners.”

From July 1st, Victory Cruise Lines will require COVID-19 vaccination for all passengers and crew.

Ponant has not returned a request for comment.

The U.S. Coast Guard is working with the Canadian government to interpret the policy and its impact on cruise lines preparing to return to business.

“We’re excited to see how this will affect the industry,” said Lorne Thomas of the US Coast Guard Department of State in the Great Lakes region.

The key question, Thomas said, is whether the order bans all cruise lines from operating or just those that stop in Canadian ports.

Connected: Great Lakes cruise ships make coronavirus safety pledges for 2021

Muskegon had expected to welcome 35 cruise ship calls in 2020, but all reservations have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The loss of the cruise business was a severe blow to the tourism industry.

“Last year was a disaster,” said Larsen.

Lukens hopes that with the introduction of the vaccine, more parts of the Muskegon community can reopen. He said the region’s tourism could be boosted by warm, sunny weather, which attracts tourists to the district’s outdoor facilities.

“That’s what will really get us through this year,” said Lukens.

In 2019, Muskegon County raised $ 334 million in tourism dollars. according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Larsen said the current burden on local tourism is temporary.

“We’re just going to keep striving for growth in this industry,” she said. “It can just take longer.”

More about MLive:

Meijer announces it will give 25,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses this week

The WMU student opens a sustainable clothing boutique in her college apartment

Beach Street in Muskegon Pere Marquette Park is closed for the season