First in at Québec City on April 25 was Viking Octantis, while Zaandam was the first for both Charlottetown (April 26) and Montréal (May 1).
Port of Québec
At the Port of Québec, President/CEO Mario Girard presented Viking Octantis Capt. Jorgen Cardestig a medal as the first in for what will be Québec's longest season, extending to Nov. 5.
The port expects 124 calls by 41 ships and a record 30 turnarounds.
Girard stressed the importance of cruise development in a sustainable way. Since 2014, the port has been limiting daily calls to four ships and 15,000 passengers.
Port of Québec is looking at providing shore power but Girard said government assistance will be necessary, and discussions continue.
Port of Montréal
At Montréal, the port presented Zaandam Capt. Ane Smit with a plaque to mark the season's first cruise call and Holland America Line's 150th anniversary. Zaandam was also the first cruise ship to plug in to shore power in 2023.
HAL has been Montréal's biggest cruise customer in recent years. Between 2010 and 2022, its ships made 136 calls carrying 337,111 passengers, representing 54% of all cruise visitors during the period.
Montréal's cruise season will run until Oct. 30 and the number of international passengers is expected to top 45,000, nearly 20% more than last year. Fifty-one calls, five more than in 2022, are booked, and 38 of those are turnarounds.
Five maiden calls are scheduled: Hapag-Lloyd’s Hanseatic Inspiration, Oceania Cruises' newly delivered Vista, Peace Boat’s Pacific World and Viking's Viking Neptune and Viking Mars. The World, which last visited in 2015, will be back for an extended call, Sept. 25-27;
Montréal is the only port on the St. Lawrence and one of only 25 in the world to provide shore power to cruise ships. It has been available at the Grand Quay since 2017. Eight vessels of Holland America, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Viking are scheduled to plug in over 19 calls.
Martin Imbleau, president/CEO of the Montréal Port Authority, noted the cruise business is gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels. And Yves Lalumière, president/ CEO of Tourisme Montréal, said the city is 'delighted to see the arrival of thousands of cruise passengers, who will add to the lively atmosphere of the Old Port as they enjoy its many cultural activities.'
In Atlantic Canada, Port Charlottetown is beginning its busiest cruise season ever, with 91 calls and 148,500 passengers.
Nine maiden calls are booked until Nov. 4, and the port expects 15 double ship days and six triple ship days. One of the largest vessels will be MSC Meraviglia on its new year-round New York homeporting schedule. It will visit three times.
'We are delighted to welcome our first visitors of 2023 and excited for all of our cruise guests to enjoy a front-row experience of historic Charlottetown and our beautiful island the minute they step off their ship,' said Mike Cochrane, CEO of Port Charlottetown.
Port Charlottetown and its tourism partners have collaborated on several initiatives to enhance the visitor experience. One is the creation of digital kiosks and a digital walking map of Charlottetown. Developed in partnership with Discover Charlottetown, these digital resources will be available in late May.
The entire Atlantic Canada region anticipates a strong year, with the Atlantic Canada Cruise Association projecting nearly 1m passengers on more than 600 calls.