The first call, Saturday's turnaround by Holland America Line's Maasdam, went 'quite well,' according to Donna Silvera Barnett, manager, port operations, Holland America Group, who was on hand. She cited a smooth passenger flow, adequate security and 'a lot of space to work with.'
The design, Barnett said, is highly functional.
A large open space without fixed walls, it allows for flexible configurations. Mobile walls can be positioned as needed.
'The fact they're able to do a consecutive embarkation/debarkation is a huge plus for any terminal,' Barnett said. 'Another plus is the left luggage [facility].' Passengers who arrive early for embarkation can leave their bags and explore the city, strolling along the scenic riverfront and stepping into the heart of Old Montréal.
'We're blessed to have the terminal there so the ships are in the middle of the action,' said Patrizia Dri, director of Tourisme Montréal.
Holland America Line's Maasdam and Veendam will be turning around in Montréal this season, along with Seabourn Quest. Barnett couldn't say if her company will be deploying more ships to Montréal because of the modernized facilty, but 'It certainly will help the whole operation.'
There is space for 20 motorcoaches plus taxis. Shore power is available, along with a direct connection for gray water discharge. A mariner's center will be housed in the building, providing crew services like free Wi-Fi. A port center with historical exhibits and a café, both open to the public, are to open this summer.
Beside the terminal is a large public parking facility. A second ship can go alongside there.
Also, the Port of Montréal will be keeping the tent terminal along the river, outside the Jacques Cartier Bridge, that has been used while the Alexandra Pier was being updated. Since cruise traffic is expected to continue growing—it's up 38% in the Saint Lawrence since last year, according to Tony Boemi, vp growth and development at the Port of Montréal—this berth will come in handy as a permanent secondary facility, particularly for larger ships.
'We're excited about the terminal and what it will do for the growth of cruise tourism in the Canada/New England region,' said Bruce Krumrine, vp shore excursions for the Holland America Group. He was among the executives from a variety of lines who inspected the facility on the eve of this week's Cruise Canada/New England Symposium.
'They put a lot of thought into it,' said Steve Young, director of port services and government affairs, Carnival UK. 'Montréal is a fantastic city and its terminal is a gateway.'
'We're looking forward to using it,' added Nicolai Skogland, port operations manager, Viking Ocean Cruises. His is one of the few lines that will be overnighting in Montréal, where passengers can view incredible illuminations from the ship, some as part of the city's 375th anniversary.
Krumrine also applauded how the terminal's new design will benefit the community and facilitate public access to the waterfront.
While fully operational, finishing touches are still under way in the terminal and a second phase is to be completed. Ultimately, a green roof will top the facility, and steps will cascade down to the river. An iconic viewing tower that will rise 80 meters or more is due to be inaugurated in 2019.
'The Port of Montréal puts a lot of time and effort into what they do. They really try to deliver on their promises,' Barnett said. Overall, the modernized terminal 'lent itself to a much smoother operation. We're looking forward to it being finished.'