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'Impressive comeback' for Vancouver's 2022 cruise operations

PHOTO: ANNE KALOSH CRUISE_David_Kelly_Canada_Place.jpg
American Queen Voyages was among the new lines at Port of Vancouver. Here, EVP David Kelly aboard AQV's homeporting ship Ocean Victory at Canada Place
Port of Vancouver chalked up record calls though passenger numbers were lower as occupancy ramped up in the first cruise season since the pandemic.

The port handled 306 cruise ship visits in 2022, up 6% from 2019, during the season that wrapped Wednesday.

'It’s been fantastic to see cruise ships and passengers back in town after the two-year pause through the height of the pandemic,' said Robin Silvester, president and CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. 'This year’s cruise season was an impressive comeback story for a critical catalyst for the local tourism industry and it provided a much-needed boost for many regional tourism and hospitality businesses.'

Silvester acknowledged cruise line partners, the Canada Place services provider Ceres Terminals Canada, Cruise Lines International Association and others 'for their hard work and dedication supporting this year’s return, under the federal government’s health framework.'

Estimated 815,000 passengers

While passenger numbers were lower in 2022, as expected, occupancy levels gradually increased throughout the season and were estimated to average approximately 70% for the year. This would mean approximately 815,000 passengers, compared to approximately 1.1m in 2019. 

Through the season occupancy rose to a peak of about 76% in summer after starting at below 50%. 

Canada's COVID-19 cruise prohibition was lifted in November 2021 and all remaining COVID-specific travel requirements were removed Oct. 1 this year.

Cruises resumed on April 10 with the inaugural visit of Holland America Line's Koningsdam and the last call was by Crown Princess on Nov. 2.

2023 record forecast

'Looking ahead, we’re seeing early indications of a record-setting season in 2023, which is a testament to the enduring strength of Vancouver’s cruise industry and this year’s successful return,' Silvester said.

Based on preliminary bookings, in 2023 there will be 334 cruise calls. If ships operate in line with normal capacities once again, Vancouver could have a record 1.3m cruise passengers next season.

'We are extremely grateful for the close collaboration of Transport Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Border Services Agency and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, which enabled us to once again sail from Canada Place and help show off the amazing natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska,' said Charlie Ball, chair of CLIA Alaska and Canada. 'We look forward to an even bigger season in 2023.'

'The return of cruise ships to Canada Place kicked off the rebuilding of Vancouver’s visitor economy,' according to Royce Chwin, president and CEO of Destination Vancouver. 'When those ships were back in the harbor and visitors were streaming into the city once again, we knew the corner had been turned. And to have the number of ships calling at our port exceed the industry’s peak in 2019 is absolutely remarkable.'

New lines and maiden calls

The 2022 season included several new cruise lines: Aurora Expeditions, Lindblad Expeditions, Scenic and American Queen Voyages.

Returning lines were Holland America, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Cunard Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Windstar Cruises, Viking and Hurtigruten.

Maiden calls were by Discovery Princess, Koningsdam, Majestic Princess, Norwegian Spirit, Ocean Victory, Quantum of the Seas, Scenic Eclipse, Silver Whisper, Star Breeze and National Geographic Venture.

Shore power

On more than 100 calls this year, cruise ships connected to shore power resulting in an estimated reduction of more than 5,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, up from 81 visits and 3,626 tons of emissions saved in 2019.