All ashore: Cruise season coming to an end for Maritime ports

Click to play video: 'Maritimes wrapping up 2022 cruise ship season'
Maritimes wrapping up 2022 cruise ship season
WATCH: Ports in the Maritimes are preparing to wave goodbye to the 2022 cruise season. This is the last week cruise ships are expected to dock in our region, drawing to a close a year that began in uncertainty. Robert Lothian reports. – Oct 31, 2022

Ports across the Maritimes are preparing to wave goodbye to the 2022 cruise ship season.

Over the coming days, Port Charlottetown, the Port of Sydney, the Port of Halifax, and Port Saint John are expected to watch their final cruise vessels of 2022 cast off.

Following two years of COVID-19 restrictions, which effectively put the industry on life support, ships returned in the spring still surrounded by uncertainty.

Natalie Allaby is the Cruise Development Manager at Port Saint John.

“At the very start of the season, we were really optimistic that we were going to have a great season ahead, but there certainly was some uncertainty, particularly around how full the ships would be coming throughout the season this year, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised that on average, it’s been about an 80-per cent fill rate,” Allaby said.

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Despite a few lost calls to post-tropical storm Fiona, Saint John welcomed 69 cruise ships over the past six months.

Rough estimates indicate the industry brought about 170,000 passengers to the Port City, Allaby noted.

Additionally, the port recorded 11 inaugural visits, which signifies a vessel’s first stop in the city.

“Often times it’s a bigger vessel, larger capacity, and then that just means they’re bringing more people into our region,” Allaby told Global News Monday, speaking outside the Marco Polo Cruise Terminal.

“So it’s always a really positive thing when we don’t see the same ships visiting year-after-year. It means that the cruise lines see a benefit and want to continue evolving their product of what they’re offering here.”

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In Halifax, the season began with a cautiously optimistic approach to passenger rates. As the year continued, vessels began to dock with a large majority of their cabins full.

“We were seeing more 50 to 60 per cent capacity, and now that we’re ending the season, it’s closer to that 90 per cent range, so it’s been a great season for us, for sure,” Emily Richardson, the Communications Coordinator for the Port of Halifax, remarked.

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Early predictions show about 225,000 passengers will have reached the port this year by the time the last ship departs.

While Fiona’s impact was even more notable in Halifax, Richardson noted only a few cruise ships cancelled their stops.

“We did pick those up other places in the season just based on a variety of reasons, but we did make up for the loss in those vessels,” she stated.

For Saint John, the final cruise ship of 2022 is expected to depart on Thursday, and in Halifax, the last ship casts off on Saturday.

When the final ships depart, staff at both the Port of Halifax and Port Saint John will have little time to rest before planning and preparations for the 2023 season take place.

In Halifax, Richardson mentioned, more than 180 vessels are expected next year, with fill capacity likely closer to 100 per cent.

A similarly busy season is forecasted in Saint John, according to Allaby, who said the port is preparing to welcome a record number of passengers.

Click to play video: 'Cruise ships docked in Halifax for first time since 2019'
Cruise ships docked in Halifax for first time since 2019

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