Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cruise season is just over the horizon

The 2010 North Coast Cruise season will soon be under way as the city plays host to a reduced number of cruise ship lines making a call at the Northland and Atlin Cruise Terminals.

As the Alaska Cruise Industry suffers a reduction in vessels for a variety of reasons; Alaskan laws and the recession among the main concerns, the spill over affect is also having an impact on British Columbia and Prince Rupert's tourism plans as well.

The Victoria Times Colonist outlined some of the challenges facing the BC industry with an article that outlined the nature of the current slump, just as the province's cruise ship infrastructure is about to increase.

Nanaimo is in the process of constructing a new terminal for the Central Island, hopeful that there will be room for its entry in the suddenly crowded  ports of call competition in BC.

Campbell River opened up their entry into that competition three years ago, and this year may perhaps be the most challenging year yet, with no vessels booked to call on their terminal this summer, a disappointment following on the heels of a similarly challenging 2009 when only one vessel tied up.

When Nanaimo comes on stream next year, they will be the fifth community to embrace the cruise industry as a way to diversify their economy, Vancouver is by far the major player in the industry, with Victoria attracting more and more attention as well, that will leave Prince Rupert, Campbell River and Nanaimo to compete for the remainder of an industry that is estimated to attract some 1.4 billion dollars into the British Columbia economy.

Prince Rupert has been working hard over the last few years to secure its share of that tourisim treasure, suffering a few setbacks in recent years as some of the larger lines that used to call on Rupert move on to other destinations and other agendas.

The Port of Prince Rupert outlined in a press release in early April that they anticipate that this cruise season will provide similar levels of passenger volume as 2009, with 54,500 visitors expected to arrive on Rupert's shores during the course of the season which wraps up on September 30th.

The Port has fixed its gaze on three priorities this season to make the visitors experience more enjoyable, their main focus being on the enhancements to the surrounding area of the Cruise Terminal to improve the guest experience.

They are also excited about the arrival of Seashore Charter's latest addition to the tour excursion experience with the introduction of their 65 foot War Canoe as well as the latest improvements to the North Pacific Historic Fishing Village, which are some of the shore based activities that they feel helps to make the Rupert stop an enjoyable one for visitors.

And judging by some of the comments on Cruise Critic, a well known Cruise industry website, we still have a bit of work to do on that shore based experience, as a few of our former visitors to the city express their thoughts on visits of the past some were rather positive , while others well, lets just hope they were here on a real rainy day .
For this year the Norwegian Star, a long time fixture on the Rupert Cruise Schedule will launch this years season on May 13th when it arrives at the Northland Terminal, the vessel accounts for 21 of the 25 port visits this summer, a much anticipated weekly arrival every Thursday at 4 pm through the summer. The Norwegian Star sends ashore visitors by the hundreds if not thousands for a six hour expedition through the streets of Rupert and beyond.

A vessel called the Silver Shadow makes its only port call at Northland on July 3rd, while the Clipper Odyssey makes its only appearance in Prince Rupert on July 11th, arriving at the Atlin Terminal as its port call.

September 11 and 12 will bring the vessels Sea Lion and Sea Bird to the city with their arrival at Atlin Terminal for a six hour stop over, they are of the pocket cruise variety of vessel, which many observers suggest may be the future of cruising for the smaller markets such as Rupert, Nanaimo and Campbell River.

Though those style of vessels make for a nice accompaniment, one imagines that with the amount of money that has been invested in the infrastructure of Northland and Atlin Terminals, the quest for the big vessels and big name lines will still be the big catch that Port and tourism officials seek out as they continue to try to build the brand of Prince Rupert as tourism destination.

To help attract more visitors to the region, the Port has a link to their cruisetoprincerupert website which offers up a wide range of information about the travel possibilities in the Prince Rupert region.

The full 2010 Cruise Ship season schedule is posted on the Port of Prince Rupert website, you can check the arrivals and departures from this link.

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