Canada’s busiest cruise-ship port key to region’s healthy tourism sector

Expectations for another banner tourist season include the usual influx of cruise ships to Ogden Point.

“There’s a couple of exciting things happening this year,” said Lindsay Gaunt, director of cruise development for the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.

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First is the prospect of another record-breaking stretch for Canada’s busiest cruise-ship stop. Gaunt said the cruise-ship season starts in April, really gets going in May and continues until October.

A record 247 ship arrivals will bring just over 600,000 passengers into the region.

That’s up from 239 ships and 590,000 passengers in 2017.

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Another 2018 highlight will be the arrival of the cruise ship Norwegian Bliss, Gaunt said, which will be in its inaugural season out of Seattle.

“June 1 will be that ship’s very first official call into Victoria,” she said. “It’s also the first port of call this ship will have ever sailed to.”

Passengers coming off the ships will have all sorts of options, she said. “We’re expecting that it will be a real positive for the city in terms of seeing folks walking to the city and coming to the downtown area, as well as taking buses to attractions further afield.”

There are some improvements for ground transportation from Ogden Point, Gaunt said, with a new company in place and more environmentally friendly buses than in past years.

The company, Pacific Northwest Transportation Services, is a joint venture involving the Wilson Group of Companies and Cruise Victoria Services Tours.

Figures from the 2017 show that about 28 per cent of cruise passengers arriving in Victoria left the terminal on foot. The remaining 72 per cent ran the gamut of tour buses, shuttle buses, bicycles, limousines, taxis and pedicabs.

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