Trois-Rivières completes first—and unexpected—turnaround with flying colors

Disembarking Marina passengers board buses at Trois-Rivières for the transfer to Montréal Disembarking Marina passengers board buses at Trois-Rivières for the transfer to Montréal (Photo courtesy of Jean Perron/IDE Trois-Rivières)

High water levels on Québec's St. Lawrence River kept Oceania Cruises' Marina from reaching Montréal on Tuesday so the ship turned around at Trois-Rivières instead.

By all accounts, everything went well.

The water was five feet too high for Marina to pass under the Laviolette Bridge outside Trois-Rivières and reach its final stop, Montréal, so the new plan was decided on Friday and managed by ground handler Destination North America. McLean Kennedy was ship's agent.

Large tent for luggage, mobile scanners, 28 buses

Jean Perron, cruise coordinator for IDE Trois-Rivières, rented a large tent for the color-coded luggage laydown and mobile scanners for security screening and passenger check-in. Destination North America managed to secure 28 buses and extra staff.

Marina arrived at Trois-Rivières 10 p.m. Monday. About 1,220 passengers disembarked Tuesday morning and were bussed to Montréal for their onward travel arrangements, while some 1,230 arriving passengers were bussed from Montréal to embark in Trois-Rivères in the afternoon. Two-thousand pieces of luggage were moved both ways.

'Everything went extremely smooth yesterday in both Montréal and Trois-Rivières,' according to Tim Rubacky, head of public relations for Oceania Cruises.

Kudos for a 'seamless operation'

'Everyone involved is to be acknowledged,' he added, citing 'the team on the ship, the authorities in both Montréal and Trois-Rivières, our port agents, transport companies, ground operators—all worked tirelessly and quickly to make this a seamless operation.'

Passengers seemed 'very happy with the arrangements and how smooth everything went,' Rubacky said. 'Our guests are experienced travelers who are a bit unflappable and take these things in stride.'

'It was a nice experience for us to have a turn,' Perron told Seatrade Cruise News. 'It was a really special experience. Now we know how it works.

'We don't know if this situation will happen again,' he added. The river's current level may be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. 'It's unusual,' he said.

However, should it happen again, Perron said: 'We are ready.'

Today was Marina's scheduled transit call in Trois-Rivières and excursions operated as planned. 'It was a really nice day,' according to Perron. 'A lot of people walked in the old city.' Ships dock right downtown, making it easy for passengers to explore on their own.

Marina was scheduled to depart Trois-Rivières late Wednesday night, bound for Québec City and Saguenay on the St. Lawrence, then Corner Brook, Newfoundland, before crossing to Southampton for June 2 arrival.

Oceania Cruises has called at Trois-Rivières since 2014, Rubacky said, and stops are scheduled there through 2019.

Is spring too early to cruise the St. Lawrence?

Spring cruises along the St. Lawrence are unusual, but something the Canada/New England region hopes to encourage in its bid to extend the season beyond the fall foliage peak, into summer and even winter. The goal is year-round cruising.

Trois-Rivières' next call is not until Sept. 13, when Amadea arrives. Other visits are booked by Seabourn Quest, Silver Spirit, Crystal Symphony, Black Watch and Grande Caribe.

'Will spring be too early to cruise on the St. Lawrence? I don't know,' Perron said. He said regional stakeholders will likely discuss this during its upcoming Cruise Canada/New England Symposium in Boston at the end of the month.

Posted 09 May 2018

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Anne Kalosh

Editor, Seatrade Cruise News & Senior Associate Editor Seatrade Cruise Review