The final cruise ship of the season has departed from the Port of Vancouver, completing a comeback year for the local cruise industry, following a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The port, in fact, welcomed a record 306 cruise ship visits in 2022, an increase of 6% compared to 2019.
“It’s been fantastic to see cruise ships and passengers back in town after the two-year pause through the height of the pandemic,” said Robin Silvester, president and CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the federal agency mandated to enable Canada’s trade through the Port of Vancouver. “This year’s cruise season was an impressive comeback story for a critical catalyst for the local tourism industry and it provided a much-needed boost for many regional tourism and hospitality businesses. I’d like to thank our cruise lines partners, the Canada Place services provider Ceres Terminals Canada, the Cruise Lines International Association and all those working throughout the cruise and tourism industry for their hard work and dedication supporting this year’s return, under the federal government’s health framework.”
While passenger numbers were lower in 2022, as expected, as people slowly returned to their pre-pandemic travel habits, occupancy levels gradually increased throughout the season and are projected to average approximately 70% for the year. This will mean approximately 815,000 passenger visits Vancouver in 2022, compared to approximately 1.1 million in 2019.
The Port of Vancouver has welcomed cruise passengers to Vancouver for more than 40 years. However, in March 2020, as part of its COVID-19 response, the Government of Canada prohibited cruise ships in Canadian waters. That prohibition was lifted in November 2021 and all remaining COVID-19-specific travel requirements were removed on October 1, 2022.
“Progressively during the season, passenger numbers on cruise ships calling at the Port of Vancouver have risen, as pandemic restrictions eased and consumer confidence bounced back,” Mr. Silvester said. “Looking ahead, we’re seeing early indications of a record-setting season in 2023, which is a testament to the enduring strength of Vancouver’s cruise industry and this year’s successful return.”
Based on preliminary bookings, in 2023 there will be 334 cruise ship visits to the Canada Place cruise terminal at the Port of Vancouver. If the industry operates in line with normal capacities once again, Vancouver could have a record 1.3 million cruise passenger visits in 2023.
“We are so excited to be cruising from Vancouver after COVID-19 induced a two-year pause,” said Charlie Ball, chair of Cruise Lines International Association Alaska and Canada Cruise. “We are extremely grateful for the close collaboration of Transport Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Border Services Agency and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority – which enabled us to once again sail from Canada Place and help show off the amazing natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. We look forward to an even bigger season in 2023.”
As the port authority works alongside the broader port community to advance environmental practices across the Port of Vancouver, it commends the cruise industry for its focus on shore power and environmental sustainability. On more than 100 visits this year, cruise ships connected to shore power resulting in an estimated reduction of more than 5,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, up from 81 visits and 3,626 tonnes of emissions saved in 2019. (Photo VFPA)