Norwegian Cruise Line announced yesterday the cancellation of a major Vancouver-Alaska cruise route, a $38-million hit that’s the latest blow to the city’s cruise industry.

The company will move its Norwegian Sun ship to the Mediterranean beginning in the summer of 2010, blaming the “challenging” economic climate and an Alaskan cruise tax of $50 per passenger. Nineteen stops will be cancelled next year in Vancouver, a loss of about 80,000 passengers or 9 per cent of the industry. The surprise move will cost the city about $38-million.

“We were, I would say, a bit blindsided by it,” said Greg Wirtz, manager of trade development at Port Metro Vancouver. “Every cruise line that operates here has been re-evaluating its deployment for 2010 in light of the economic crisis and the Alaska [tax] situation.”

Rival Carnival Corp. has cut 62 departures from Vancouver for 2010.