This year, 820,000 cruise passengers will travel through Vancouver, BC on 236 ships either embarking guests or making a port call at the city’s two terminals.
Business is booming, Robin Silvester, president and CEO, Port Metro Vancouver, told 1,300 agents attending Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) annual cruise3sixty conference on Friday at the Vancouver Convention Center.
“Vancouver is the largest home port in Canada and accounts for a third of passengers traveling through Canada,” Silvester said, noting that the port serves 17 Alaska-bound cruise ships this year, up from 13 ships last year.
The four vessels that are newly sailing from Vancouver this year are the Disney Wonder, Norwegian Sun, Oceania Cruises’ Regatta and Holland America Line’s Amsterdam. Some of those vessels had sailed from Vancouver in past years but not in 2012.
“It’s also very worthy of note that as we speak the Amsterdam is plugged into shore power,” he told the audience. In 2009, Vancouver became the first port in Canada and the third in the world to create the infrastructure to allow cruise ships to plug into shore power rather than running their diesel engines while in port.
Silvester said that’s significantly reduced noise and improved air quality. To date, 150 vessels docking at Vancouver have connected to shore power. This year, he projects that 40 percent of vessels calling in the city will use shore power while docked. That resonates with both the public and cruise guests, he said.As for the passenger experience at Port Metro Vancouver, he said several new Canada Place activities are ready for cruisers. Canada Place houses the main cruise terminal.
One is the War of 1812 Experience, which commemorates the 200th anniversary of one of the major milestones on Canada’s road to becoming an independent country.
Silvester said the other new Canada Place attraction, FlyOver Canada, opens July 2 and is a “must see.” This all-ages ride gives a sensation of flying over the country from east to west. Agents and consumers may learn more at www.flyovercanada.com.
“The cruise industry is significant for us at Port Metro Vancouver, and it’s also very important for the city,” said Silvester. Each cruise ship that calls at Vancouver directly and indirectly contributes $2 million in regional economic activity; that includes spending for hotel accommodations, taxi fares, dining, shopping and sightseeing tours.
“People in Vancouver love the cruise ships,” added Rick Antonson, president and CEO, Tourism Vancouver. “We feel quite parental.”
He said that when the ships sail in, people watch from their homes or from the seawall and say “there go our ships…We’ve got the world’s best back yards.”