Newlywed Meghan Lorenzon from Orlando, Florida, stepped off the Norwegian Joy and into the record books Friday afternoon, breaking the eight-million mark for cruise ship passengers at the Ogden Point terminal.
By her side was husband Brent Petkus.
“That’s pretty fantastic,” the 36-year-old Lorenzon said to media at the pier. “Actually it’s a little crazy. I love it.”
She said it all came about when the crew gave her and Petkus a call and asked if one of them being the eight-millionth customer was something they would be interested in.
It turns out it was.
“We’re celebrating our honeymoon,” Lorenzon said. “We got married two weeks ago and so we were just super excited. I think that’s just amazing.
“It’s just a great end to the week, it’s just been a fantastic week together.”
She said they boarded their cruise ship in Seattle with the aim to doing something a little different. “We were looking for something unique, something we’re not really used to,” Lorenzon said. “It’s beautiful here.”
Petkus, 33, said he was excited to be disembarking in Victoria.
“I’ve always wanted to visit British Columbia, so this is kind of a check off the bucket list for me, because I know there’s a lot of historic things here,” he said. “I’m anxious to see the city, it’s something that I’m excited to do.”
Lorenzon and Petkus were presented with the option of a Victoria Pedi-cab tour of downtown, tea at the Fairmont Empress or a coach tour to the Butchart Gardens, and were leaning toward the latter. “I hear it’s beautiful,” Lorenzon said.
The couple also received a gift basket full of local items.
Lindsay Gaunt, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority’s director of cruise development, said the count of cruise passengers began in the 1970s when the industry was just getting started.
“We’re pretty excited to have made it up to eight million.”
The numbers are rising quickly, with the seven-million passenger mark having been reached just two years ago. “This year we’re projecting around 700,000 passengers to arrive through Ogden Point, so we may see another millionth passenger celebration next year,” Gaunt said.
The 10 millionth passenger is projected to arrive in 2021.
She said Lorenzon and Petkus were chosen when the harbour authority contacted the ship’s crew. “We asked them to have a look at the guests on their ship and give us a tip on who they thought might be a great eight-millionth passenger.”
Then it was arranged for them to be the first people off the ship.
Gaunt said the influx of visitors from cruise ships is a boon for Victoria. “Our first ship usually arrives in mid-April and the last ship arrives around mid-October, but the full high season is May to September,” she said.
About 260 vessels will be coming to the Victoria Cruise Ship Terminal this year.
The Norwegian Joy was scheduled for a 10 p.m. departure Friday. The ship, which can carry 3,883 passengers, is in its inaugural season of coming Victoria.
Features of the vessel include a two-level go-cart track, a water park and outdoor laser tag.