Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Royal Caribbean Victoria Bound

Prince Rupert's Cruise industry aspirations took a bit of a hit in mid August as Royal Caribbean lines announced that they would no longer be calling on Prince Rupert in 2009.

Royal Caribbean decided that next year the Rhapsody of the Seas will make Victoria their Canadian port of choice, leaving a hole in the calendar on Wednesday and a hit in the pocketbook for those that work in cruise related businesses around the city.

The story was featured as the front page item in the August 15 edition of the Daily News.

Rhapsody of the Seas to switch to Victoria from Rupert
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, August 15, 2008
Page one

Tourism in Prince Rupert took a blow on Thursday when it was announced that the Wednesday cruise ship would not be visiting in 2009.

The Royal Caribbean International confirmed that its cruise ship Rhapsody of the Seas is switching its port of call to Victoria from Prince Rupert. “Our company routinely reviews and evaluates our itineraries to ensure we are providing our guests with diverse and updated cruise experiences around the world,” said Lyan Sierra- Caro, senior executive, brand communications Royal Caribbean International said in a statement.

“These reviews may result in changes to ports of call or to arrival and departure ports. These changes are designed to provide our guests with new and different travel and vacation experiences.”

Sierra-Caro did not say why the firm chose to go to the provincial capital over Rupert but did maintain that Royal Caribbean would continue to work closely with community in the future.

“In this case, a decision was made to provide our guests on certain sailings to Alaska with an alternative port of call,” said Sierra-Caro. “We continue to maintain excellent relationships with officials in Prince Rupert and we have fully discussed this matter with the port authority and mayor there.”

Tourism Prince Rupert president Bruce Wishart said that, while he has not had any confirmation yet, losing a cruise ship would be hard on the city. “Obviously the potential of losing a ship is of great concern to the local tourism industry,” said Wishart.

“Each big ship that ties up here leaves about $240,000 in the community, a cruise is worth about $15 million to us over the course of the season.”

Wishart added that, once the figures were broken down that figure would include $7 million spent in local stores, $3 million spent on local tours and $1 million spent on local restaurants.

“The cruise industry also offers us a great deal of credibility, in that independent visitors thinking of coming here see the cruise ships as validation that this is a good place to visit,“ said Wishart. “Cruise industry also offers very predictable traffic that helps small business finance their marketing plans, and there are many other economic spin-offs to hosting cruise ships. So the cruise industry has an impact right across the small business community, and it’s vital that Prince Rupert take any threat to that very seriously.”

The Prince Rupert Port Authority did not comment on the Royal Caribbean’s statement.

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