At 61 metres, the Lions Gate Bridge is too low for new cruise ships to fit under

Click to play video: 'Today’s cruise ships are too tall to go under the Lions Gate Bridge' Today’s cruise ships are too tall to go under the Lions Gate Bridge
Modern cruise ships are being built taller and longer, with some too big to squeeze under the Lions Gate Bridge. The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority says it’s planning for a new terminal. Jennifer Palma has more – Sep 22, 2017

Vancouver is set to welcome a record number of cruise ship passengers this weekend.

But attracting so many people via the ships could be challenging in the future.

The reason? The Lions Gate Bridge: it’s simply too low for the modern cruise ship to fit under comfortably.

WATCH: Coverage of cruise ships on

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Vancouver is no stranger to large cruise ships.

It has hosted vessels such as the Celebrity Solstice, which carries 2,850 passengers at a time.

But that’s only a medium-sized ship — and that size is about the biggest that can fit under the Lions Gate Bridge, which has a clearance height of 61 metres below the deck.

Lions Gate Bridge. Mike Acheson

And that’s a problem for some people in the cruise industry who are seeing bigger ships head south of the border.

“In Seattle, they had the Explorer of the Seas, which is larger than the Solstice, and the Explorer simply couldn’t come to Vancouver,” Barry Penner, an associate advisor with Cruise Line International, told Global News.

“On the orderbook, you can see that there’s many and much larger ships being built right now, and those will be coming into the marketplace, looking for a port to call home.

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The cruise ship industry is worth about $2 billion to B.C., and each ship can bring as much as $3 million to the local economy.

Vancouver has seen three per cent growth in cruise ship passengers this year, and it hopes to keep that momentum going.

READ MORE: Taxis flock to downtown: record number of cruise ship passengers arriving in Vancouver

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority nevertheless confirmed that it is looking at the possibility of building another terminal besides the one at Canada Place.

“We are working with a consultant to look at the feasibility, to determine a location for a potential terminal,” Carmen Ortega, manager of trade development at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, told Global News.

It’s not known where such a terminal could be located.

But Delta could be a candidate for one; most ports around the world are located far from major cities.

It would just mean that new options for transportation would have to be made available.

“So that sounds to me like maybe a SkyTrain might be a good idea, or a light rail over maybe a new bridge here,” Delta Mayor Lois Jackson told Global News.


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