A trio of cruise ships sit in port at Ogden Point on a summer evening in July 2017. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Record number of cruise ship passengers visit Victoria this year

GVHA says the increase reflects a growing interest in our city

A record number of visitors docked at Victoria’s Ogden Point cruise ship terminal this year.

A reported 239 cruise ship calls in 2017 made it the largest number ever recorded for the city, up from 224 in 2016. From April to October, over 600,000 passengers visited the city and this season also welcomed the seven millionth cruise ship passenger since the Ogden Point cruise terminal became a destination in 1978, arriving on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas.

Ian Robertson, CEO of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) says the cruise lines they work with love Victoria.

“This higher number of ship calls reflects a growing interest in our city not just during the peak summer season, but in the shoulder months of late spring and early fall as well,” he added.

The city has seen smaller, boutique or “pocket” cruise lines – ships with all the amenities, but fewer passengers, like National Geographic’s Lindblad Expeditions — make more frequent visits over the past few years. As visits and interest to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska grow in popularity, that trend is expected to grow.

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Paul Nursey, president and CEO of Tourism Victoria said the GVHA has done great work welcoming cruise ships to the city during what has been another remarkable year for tourism in Greater Victoria.

“Having more than 600,000 cruise ship passengers visit our city is really positive for our destination as research indicates many of those people will come back later for a longer visit,” Nursey said. “The fact more visitors are choosing to come in the shoulder seasons shows that our efforts to promote Greater Victoria as a year-round destination are working.”

At the start of the season, GVHA introduced a new tool to give real-time updates for arrival and departure schedules on victoriacruise.ca. Toward the end of the season, a join venture between CVS Tours and The Wilson’s Group was announced to make the Ogden Point bus fleet a greener, cleaner and quieter operation.

Thinking ahead to next season, GVHA is building an extended mooring dolphin to welcome a brand new 330 metre ship, the Norwegian Bliss, scheduled for regular calls beginning in June 2018, as well as Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas,and in 2019, Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

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