Monday, July 25, 2016

Last of the large vessels in 2016 Cruise season made port call Sunday

The Crystal Serenity made its one and
only port call on Sunday at the city's
Northland Cruise Terminal
The 2016 Prince Rupert Cruise Season has twelve port calls on the calendar this year, but only two of those stop overs in the city feature vessels with more than 1,000 passengers, with Sunday's visit of the Crystal Serenity marking the last of the big boats for the year.

The Sunday port call also made for the midway point of Prince Rupert's cruise season, with six vessels having arrived at the Northland terminal since May.

So far this year, those six vessels have brought 5,512 passengers to the city, over 3,100 of that number coming from just two ships.

On Sunday, the Crystal Serenity pulled into town over the noon hour, and offered the prospect of a potential 1,070 visitors taking to shore to explore much of what the region has to offer and providing a short burst of economic activity for the city's restaurants, stores and attractions.

Through the afternoon and early evening, tour buses made the rounds of the city with passengers boarding at the Northland Cruise Terminal for their thumbnail guide to the city's downtown area.

Other visitors took advantage of some of the private shore based excursions, or did their own exploring heading into the Cow Bay District and on along Third and Second Avenues.

And while the arrival of the large vessel brought local residents to Mariner's Park, or the Cow Bay Dock to take photos of the visiting ship and certainly added to the Sunday atmosphere in the Cow Bay area, attracting the bigger vessels may not be a direction that charts the future of the Prince Rupert Cruise industry.

Last Thursday, the working group that is examining issues facing the local cruise industry hosted a session for local business operators and others interested in becoming part of the shore excursion program, putting further attention towards a proposed new strategy that will put the focus on the smaller vessels as an area of the industry where Prince Rupert may find its best success.

That theme came out of a recent study that noted that it has been a challenge to provide enough activities for those independent passengers from the larger vessels to enjoy. With local cruise industry observers suggesting that it may be more beneficial to seek out and attract vessels with more manageable sized passenger loads.

Something along the lines of the smaller, more compact cruise ships that make up the bulk of the yearly port calls bring to the city each year.

That study offered up some findings that observed that passengers from the larger vessels that explore Prince Rupert on their own, and not through a shore based excursion tended to have a less favourable review of what the city has to offer visitors

With those notes in mind, that smaller higher end luxury lines with their smaller passenger loads is where the cruise working group would like to pivot the local market towards, with the concept of offering more local excursions, tours and events towards that area.

Those smaller vessels will be the most familiar sight for the  remaining two months of this years season, the largest of the six remaining port calls features two return visits from the MS Regatta with 684 passengers.

The passenger levels will drop significantly when the Silver Discoverer, Le Soleal, Sea Bird and Sea Lion vessels and their lower passenger counts make their calls through August and into September.

The 2016 season comes to a close with the September 11th visit of the Sea Lion to Prince Rupert.

For more items related to the North Coast Cruise industry see our archive page here.

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