The final cruise ship slips into Ogden Point Cruise Terminal on Sunday, capping a season that witnessed a series of milestones and records for the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA).
“Norwegian Cruise Lines, along with the other 11 cruise lines visited this season, consistently rank Victoria’s Ogden Point Cruise Terminal as a port of call that is welcoming, easy to work with, and focused on sustainability and environmental improvements,” says Lindsay Gaunt, Director, Cruise Development, GVHA.
From the season launch on April 11 to the final call this coming weekend, the GVHA welcomed close to 640,000 passengers and 260,000 crew on 250 ship calls. A highlight of the season was the June 1 inaugural call of the Norwegian Cruise Lines flagship, Norwegian Bliss, built specifically to serve the growing Alaskan cruise market.
With more than 30 per cent of passengers walking to and from the cruise terminal to points in downtown Victoria, GVHA worked with the City of Victoria on streamlined wayfinding signage and maps. Passengers choosing to travel to and from the terminal were welcomed by expanded human-powered transportation options including pedi-cabs, rickshaws, and bike rentals.
“Cruise ship travel is an integral component of the Greater Victoria tourism industry,” says Paul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria. “Research informs us that many cruise passengers are introduced to Greater Victoria for the first time on a cruise and then return for a longer land-based vacation. The passengers that disembark at Ogden Point also support our restaurants and attractions, as well as bring a life and vitality to the downtown core.”
In preparation for the arrival of the Norwegian Bliss, terminal improvements included new bollards at Pier A South to safely and steadily secure the 168,000-tonne vessel. GVHA’s terminal management partner Western Stevedoring added new lighting at Pier B to improve safety and energy efficiency, as well as reduce light pollution.
Expected improvements for 2019 include the lengthening of the Pier B mooring dolphin to accommodate docking of the Royal Caribbean International Ovation of the Seas at the deep-water facility. In addition to welcoming the Ovation of the Seas, the terminal expects new cruise lines including Azamara and the return after more than 20 years of Cunard.
In response to the positive reaction from its guests, Norwegian Cruise Lines is repositioning the Norwegian Joy, sister ship of the Norwegian Bliss, on the Seattle to Alaska route in 2019, with a weekly call scheduled for Saturdays from June to October.
The 2018 Victoria cruise ship season by the numbers:
250 ship calls
12 different cruise lines
1,069 feet – length of the Norwegian Bliss
$130 million – estimated economic contribution to the regional economy
800 direct jobs