As the Alaska cruise season officially ends, the Port of Vancouver has enjoyed a record-breaking season, a welcome change from the dismal past two years with pandemic-related restrictions exacting a heavy toll on tourism and the local economy.
More than 300 cruises visited Vancouver in 2022, an increase beyond the 2019 season, bringing a boost to local businesses and signaling the resurgence of the cruise industry and increased demand from eager travelers.
Alaska Cruise Season Officially Ends
With the departure of Crown Princess, the last ship of the season to homeport from Vancouver, on Wednesday, November 2, the 2022 Alaska cruise season has officially ended, closing out a brilliant resurgence to local tourism traffic.
Vancouver’s cruise season began on April 10, with the arrival of Holland America Line’s Koningsdam. Throughout the nearly 7-month season, Vancouver saw a total of 306 cruise ship visits, a 6% increase compared to 2019.
“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.”
Passenger Numbers Lower, But Growing
While the number of cruise ship visits to Vancouver showed remarkable increase this year, overall visitor totals are still below 2019 levels.
This is due to ships operating at lower capacity due to health and safety protocols, one of which has meant carrying fewer passengers. Throughout the season, however, capacities were increased and passenger totals continued to recover.
For the full season, passenger numbers averaged approximately 70% of full capacity. Vancouver enjoyed approximately 815,000 passenger visits in 2022, compared to approximately 1.1 million in 2019.
Throughout the season, restrictions slowly eased and tourism increased accordingly.
“The return of cruise ships to Canada Place kicked off the rebuilding of Vancouver’s visitor economy,” said Royce Chwin, president and CEO of Destination Vancouver. “When those ships were back in the harbour and visitors were streaming into the city once again, we knew the corner had been turned.”
All pandemic-related travel restrictions in Canada were ended October 1, 2022, just as the cruise season was drawing to a close. This meant the easing of those restrictions did not have as dramatic of an impact on late-season sailings, but the various protocols did permit a safe return season for cruise tourism.
“I’d like to thank our cruise lines partners, the Canada Place services provider Ceres Terminals Canada, the Cruise Lines International Association and all those working throughout the cruise and tourism industry for their hard work and dedication supporting this year’s return, under the federal government’s health framework,” said Silvester.
2023 Looks Even Better
While 2022 will be regarded as a recovery year after the global pandemic, the 2023 cruise season looks even better for Vancouver.
“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,” said Silvester.
Based on preliminary bookings, the Canada Place cruise terminal at the Port of Vancouver is slated to welcome 334 cruise ship visits, with as many as 1.3 million cruise passengers onboard.
Cruise lines offering sailings from Vancouver in 2023 will include Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, and more, with many other lines also making day visits to the port.