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St. Lawrence region nearly reaches pre-pandemic cruise numbers

PHOTO: CRUISE THE SAINT LAWRENCE CRUISE_Viking_Sea_Photo_Cruise__the_ Saint_Lawrence.jpg
A Viking ship visits during the peak fall foliage period. The Saint-Lawrence region attracts ships from early spring and continues to post steady increases in summer traffic, with the first winter cruises scheduled in 2025
During 2023, 43 ships spent more than 450 days in port in the nine Cruise the Saint Lawrence destinations for a total of some 460,000 passenger days.

This compares to pre-pandemic 2019's 489,000 passenger days and follows 2022's 266,000.

Longest season ever

It was the longest ever St. Lawrence cruise season, extending from April 23 to Nov. 5.

The September to November period remains the most popular period, however the region attracts ships from early spring and continues to post steady increases in summer traffic. During April to late June this year, 61 calls were spread across the nine ports, up from 37 in 2022. July and August calls jumped from 20 in 2022 to 57 in 2023.

The region is drawing a wider diversity of ships, with notable increases in the expedition and luxury segments.

As homeports, Montréal and Québec see a great many travelers book and pre- and post-cruise tours, boosting the overall economic impact of the international cruise sector.

Four-season destination in 2025

The St. Lawrence will become a four-season cruise destination in 2025 when Ponant's Le Commandant Charcot operates four 12-night sailings between late January and early March. The open-jaw cruises will operate between Port of Québec and Saint‑Pierre‑et‑Miquelon with calls at Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Gaspé, Sept-Îles, Saguenay and Nova Scotia's Sydney.

'The popularity of Destination Saint Lawrence continues to advance by leaps and bounds as we develop new niche market segments with the capacity to drive sustained growth in passenger traffic to pre-pandemic levels and beyond,' said René Trépanier, executive director of Cruise the Saint Lawrence. 'Although autumn remains our busiest season, cruise lines are constantly discovering promising new attributes, not the least of which is the four-season potential of the Saint Lawrence region.'

Sustainable development strategy

Cruise the Saint Lawrence officials are currently focused on implementing the organization’s sustainable development strategy that includes eliminating single‑use plastics in ports, shore power and initiatives to raise cruise line awareness of the importance and benefits of local procurement.