Cruise ship season remains strong on the North Coast with 25 cruise ships calling on Prince Rupert’s Northland Cruise Terminal for the 2018 season.
The Port of Prince Rupert released its cruise schedule on March 13, showing the same number vessels as last year with approximately 12,600 passengers.
In a press release, the port stated that it received the most favourable passenger feedback in recent history after the 2017 season.
“After reviewing our Passenger Exit Surveys, we are happy to report that the feedback we collected was overwhelmingly positive with regards to overall impressions of our community,” said Brian Friesen, director of trade development and communications for the Port of Prince Rupert. “The work that we’ve undertaken in recent years with Tourism Prince Rupert and local businesses to improve our reputation as a cruise destination is certainly coming to fruition.”
While the cruise industry in Prince Rupert has been on the rise the past two years, this year there is going to be approximately 4,400 fewer passengers from the previous year.
“The vessel count is the same but we’re seeing one less big cruise ship that had a lot of passengers on it,” Friesen said.
Most of the cruise lines calling on Prince Rupert operate vessels with between 200-900 passengers, allowing them to take part in one of the shore excursion programs, such as a grizzly bear tour in the Khutzeymateen or a tour of the North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site.
Friesen said with those smaller luxury lines from 400-600 passengers it seems to be a really good fit with the shore excursion programs Prince Rupert has to offer “but that’s not to say that we’re not targeting large cruise vessels as well.”
There are currently 13 shore excursions offered to cruise ship passengers.
“Going forward that’s an area where we’re continuing to invest time and effort in order to accommodate larger vessels, we need to expand our current program offerings. We’re certainly looking for different options for guests,” Friesen said.
This year, tourists will also enjoy a few of the improvement projects the port has invested into, including a revamped access to Cow Bay from the cruise terminal through the Atlin Promenade, and the 1.5-kilometre Rushbrook Trail along the waterfront. Friesen said they expect the promenade project to be complete before the first cruise call mid-May.
“These projects represent the Port of Prince Rupert’s continued efforts to enhance year-round waterfront access, as well as improving the flow of cruise passengers looking to experience the best of Prince Rupert during the visit,” Friesen said.
“We’re looking forward to construction being completed in time for the first vessel call of 2018, giving passengers more opportunities to take in the beautiful harbour vistas.”
The first cruise ship to arrive is also the largest vessel to call on Prince Rupert this season. Royal Carribbean’s Radiance of the Seas arrives on May 16, with 2,500 passengers. The ultra-luxury Seabourn Cruise Line is also returning six times, and for the first time Windstar Cruises will call on Prince Rupert five times from its 208-passenger Star Legend vessel.