Print Posted_by Cruise Discuss 04/14/2017 in Cruise News

Vancouver 2017 Cruise Season - Record number of cruise ship passengers expected

Vancouver 2017 Cruise Season - Record number of cruise ship passengers expected

Thanks to the recently expanded Panama Canal, the 2017 cruise season took off with Star Princess arriving at the Canada Place cruise terminal. Star Princess can accommodate as many as 3,100 passengers. They would be the first of some 840,000 cruise passengers expected in Vancouver this season with 237 vessels visiting and a 2% increase over the previous year. Manager of Cruise Services at Port Metro Vancouver - Carmen Ortega, stated that Vancouver is not only getting more calls but also bigger ships with more passengers, adding further that this was also the biggest change.

The largest among 33 vessels scheduled to be making regular calls to Vancouver this year include Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess, each of them carrying up to 3,850 passengers. President of Canada Cruise Lines, Greg Wirtz stated that back in 1986 when Canada Place opened, the average size of a ship carried only 600 passengers. In 2007 however, ships with a passenger capacity of 2,000 people started sailing from Vancouver. Those were also the biggest ships that could fit the Panama Canal.

Anticipating the $5 billion Panama Canal expansion project completed in mid-2016, the cruise industry had commenced building bigger ships some 10 years ago. The cruise ships were designed to carry up to 4,000 passengers though most of them had remained in the Atlantic. Over the years, however, some of these vessels sailed around South America to start operations from Vancouver. Wirtz added that the floodgates are now open with a bigger Panama Canal and that the largest ships in the Caribbean have a passenger capacity of 6,000 people.

Canada Place Cruise Terminal

Meantime, the number of cruise passengers in Vancouver has witnessed a steady increase from about 805,000 in 2015 to about 827,000 in 2016, and an estimated 840,000 in the current year.  Canada Place is expecting about 16,000 passengers to board or disembark from cruise ships on the busiest days of the season. On 6th May, when three ships will be docking simultaneously for the first time this cruise season, some 14,000 passengers will be using the facility, according to Ortega from the Port Authority. Talking about the decommissioning of the Ballantyne Pier as a dock for cruise ships since 2014, Wirtz from the trade association stated that there was a drop in capacity. However, Ortega mentioned since that time, passenger movement at Canada Place has been upgraded and added that Canada Place offers a significantly enhanced facility in access for passengers to ground transportation.

Downtown Vancouver merchants to benefit from increase in passengers

Merchants in the downtown area of Vancouver are also gearing themselves up for the increase in passengers from cruise ships. While some areas will face some challenges in terms of traffic, cruise passengers are unlikely to walk long distances, and the areas receiving heavy pedestrian traffic will significantly favor local business. According to an estimate by the port authority, the local economy is expected to benefit by about $3 million from cruise passengers.

Cruise Ship Terminal, Canada Place - Vancouver BC flickr photo by onthewayadvice shared into the public domain using Creative



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