Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Discussions and thoughts on next seasons departure of the Rhapsody of the Seas from its Prince Rupert port call

As a follow up to their front page story of August 15, the Daily News provided some background to the departure of the Rhapsody of the Seas from a Prince Rupert port call.

The thoughts of local businessman Glen Saunders and Mayor were examined in a front page story in the Monday, August 18 edition of the paper.

Local businesses say they knew that announcement regarding Wednesday cruise ship was forthcoming.
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, August 18, 2008
Pages one and three

Cow Bay Gift Gallery owner Glen Saunders said Friday that merchants have known for some time the Wednesday Cruise ship was not destined for Prince Rupert in 2009.
Saunders, who also owns the building the gallery is located in , said that he has come up with a contingency plan for 2009.

“We won’t have any major employment changes to our business and our stores will still remain open until 9 p. m., seven days a week,” said Saunders.

On Thursday, Royal Caribbean International announced that its cruise liner, Rhapsody on the Seas was not going to have a Prince Rupert stop.

It switched its Canada port of call location on its voyage from Seattle to Alaska to Victoria.

This, even though the company named no specific reasons for the change.

While it is a concern for Saunders, who said that cruise ships were responsible for 10-to-11 per cent of his business, he also said that this is the price the city is going to have to pay in the major cruise ship world.

“Cruise ships are going to dock wherever they can make the most money,” said Saunders.

“Victoria I think is major competition for us given that they have Buchart Gardens, the legislature and other great amenities.”

“But it also speaks about the class Prince Rupert is in when we are competing for these cruise ships.”

Saunders went on to add that he has heard from people connected to Royal Caribbean that Prince Rupert has been a solid investment for that holidaymaker and that there is still a good possibility that a cruise ship will return in 2009.

One of the concerns mentioned by Saunders and backed up by Mayor Herb Pond was the downtown retail offering of the city.

Pond said the city would have to continue evolving its city shops if it were going to continue to compete for these stops.

“It’s really chicken and egg thing,” said Pond.

“You are not going to get the boats if the retail isn’t there but the retail isn’t going to be there if the boats don’t come.

The Alaskan city, which is 145km north of Prince Rupert on the panhandle, is the first port of call in the state for northbound ferries.

“Without a doubt the challenge is the retail and there being more things to do for cruise ship passengers other than shoreline tours,” said Pond.

“We have really good tour operators in our city but there is a little less self-guided activities to do in Prince Rupert than there would be in Victoria.”

Pond was convinced retailers would step up as they have in the past.
“The really good thing is that we have done it before and for 2010 we can do it again.”

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