Cruises along the Canadian coasts are fantastic experiences. Many visitors come to sail around the Maritime Provinces or explore the Arctic regions by cruise ship. A common question is whether you need a Canada eTA for a cruise.
The Canada Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is needed by visitors of many different nationalities if they wish to enter the country by plane. Do the same rules apply when cruises are involved?
This guide to Canadian cruises has all the information you need to explore Canada by ship with the correct documentation.
Where Do Cruise Ships Sail in Canada?
The type of cruise and particularly the point of embarkation has a large bearing on whether the eTA is a necessary requirement.
There are various cruises that visitors to Canada can enjoy. Many not only sail by the shores of Canada but stop at ports in nearby Greenland or in the United States as well. Some of the most popular Canadian cruises include:
- Canada and New England cruises
- Canadian Maritimes cruises
- British Columbia and Alaska cruises
- Arctic cruises (including Greenland and parts of the Northwest Passage)
- Atlantic cruises to Canada
Do You Need an eTA for a Canadian Cruise?
Travelers heading to Canada for a cruise frequently have questions about the documentation they will need. As a rule, foreign visitors either need a visa or a Canadian electronic travel authorization (eTA).
See which nationalities are eligible for this by checking the Canada eTA requirements.
The eTA has a more streamlined registration process. Applicants do not need to travel to an embassy, as with a traditional visa. The Canadian eTA application form can be completed online from the comfort of their own home.
The eTA is mandatory for all visitors from eligible countries who fly into Canada or transit through a Canadian airport.
The Canada eTA is not required to board a cruise ship. However, it will be required in the following situations:
- The traveler flies into Canada in order to start their cruise at a Canadian port
- The traveler transits through a Canadian airport on the way to start their cruise
Passengers will not require a Canada eTA for a cruise in the following circumstances:
- The passenger enters Canada by land or by boat before embarking on the cruise
- The cruise departs from the United States and the traveler flies directly to the US beforehand
- The passenger is on a trans-Atlantic cruise to Canada and arrives on Canadian soil by ship
The Canada eTA will not be required if the traveler leaves Canada by plane, but if any of their travel plans see them arriving at a Canadian airport by aircraft, it will be necessary to pass through border control.
Visitors from countries who do not have visa-free entry to Canada must obtain a Canadian visa from an embassy or consulate instead.
Why Take a Cruise in Canada?
Canadian cruises can be a great adventure. Whether sailing along the coast of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island or braving the icy Arctic, there is plenty to see.
Cruise ships provide a place to relax with luxurious accommodation. Many provide entertainment for the evenings and come with a variety of facilities for the passengers.
Cruising around Canada gives passengers a taste of Canadian hospitality at charming port cities like Halifax, Nova Scotia and Saguenay, Quebec and offers dramatic views of the Canadian fjords.
Many cruises also offer the chance to stop in US cities, such as Boston, Portland, New York, and Juneau.
Canadian Maritimes Cruises
The Canadian Maritime Provinces are 3 of the smallest regions of Canada located on the Atlantic Coast, close to the United States. The Maritimes are:
- New Brunswick
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island (PEI)
Many of the most popular Canadian cruises include both the Maritime Provinces and the northeastern United States (parts of New England and in some cases New York). Some also include parts of Quebec and Newfoundland.
Passengers can enjoy the scenic coastline, particularly in fall when then foliage turns to vivid shades of red and orange and spend days in port cities such as Halifax, Saint John, Quebec City, Charlottetown, and Sydney (Nova Scotia).
Canadian Arctic Cruises
Canadian cruises around the Arctic are an adventure into the snowy wilds of the north.
Cruise ships sail along various routes around the coast of the territory of Nunavut, including Baffin Island, as well as the northern part of Quebec (Nunavik). Many cruises also cross to Greenland, making stops at ports such as Nuuk.
Some cruises take passengers deep into the Northwest Passages—channels between the islands of Canada’s Arctic Archipelago where various explorers from history lost their way trying to find a route to the Pacific.
Canadian Arctic cruises are the perfect opportunity for wildlife lovers to spot Polar bears, seals, whales and arctic birds.
The magnificent frozen environments of Arctic Canada include fjords, icebergs, and glaciers. Many cruises give passengers the opportunity to see these natural wonders up close and go on hiking excursions when in port.
Vancouver to Alaska Cruises
Various cruise companies sail from Vancouver, British Columbia along the Pacific coast to the American state of Alaska. Passengers can enjoy both the Canadian coast and the American coast as they sail north.
Cruises from Vancouver to Alaska provide a chance to see grizzly bears, humpback whales and belugas.
Vancouver itself is one of Canada’s most artistic and diverse cities and is well worth visiting for its art scene, music, local seafood, and for excursions to the nearby mountains.
Remember that all eligible travelers who fly into Vancouver must have the Canada eTA. Once through border control, they will be able to enjoy everything that their Canadian cruise has to offer.Obtain an eTA