Vancouver readies for record cruise season

A record 1.2 million to 1.3 million cruise passengers could pass through the Port of Vancouver this year

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A cruise ship deck is visible while docked at Canada Place | Glen Korstrom

Vancouver is expected to receive a record number of cruise passengers this year - between 1.2 million and 1.3 million, depending on how full the ships are, according to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA).

The previous record for cruise passengers in a year was 1.1 million, set in 2019, according to VFPA data.

Ships are set to start arriving in Vancouver tomorrow, April 12, when the Sapphire Princess arrives at Canada Place. The port authority expects 331 cruise-ship visits, which is up by about eight per cent from last year. The season is set to end on Oct. 26.

Cruise Lines International Association - North West & Canada (CLIA) spokesman Barry Penner told BIV that the Sapphire Princess has a capacity of 2,670 passengers and his figures show that the ship is expected to be about 65 per cent full.

Last year, cruise lines were intentionally not filling their ships to capacity.

"A certain number of rooms were held back deliberately last season so that they would be available in the event that they were required for isolation purposes and medical isolation, but it really turned out that they were not needed to be used very much," he said. 

"My understanding is that more of the rooms are available for sale this year."

It remains to be seen how occupied the cruise ships that visit Vancouver turn out to be. Penner's association's surveys show that potential customers' intention to go on a cruise is up by about eight per cent, compared with pre-pandemic, he said.

The Vancouver cruise industry was halted in 2020 and 2021. It then bounced back solidly in 2022

The port authority's figures show that Vancouver's cruise industry injects an average of almost $3 million into the local economy for each ship that visits Canada Place, generates nearly 7,000 jobs across Canada, $300 million in wages and contributes $840 million to national GDP.

Penner's data for B.C. is that the cruise sector is responsible for 17,000 jobs and $2.7 billion to the provincial gross domestic product. 

gkorstrom@biv.com

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