Canada Concludes Record Cruise Season

Overall Canada has seen fantastic numbers of ship visits and passenger totals as the 2023 season draws to a close.

The sailing season in Canada is wrapping up with record numbers for cruise travelers and cruise ship calls, surpassing pre-pandemic levels and bringing great economic benefits to port communities and across the country.

At the same time, improved measures to protect the environment have ensured sustainability and commitment to conscientious cruising that will help preserve Canada’s pristine ports and coastlines for generations to come.

Canadian Cruise Season Ends With a Flourish

With leaves falling and snow on the horizon, the cruise season in Canada is wrapping up after a booming year that may well surpass 2019 levels thanks to record-setting numbers of passengers visiting the Great White North.

Multiple cruise ports in Canada have reported superior numbers this year, such as Vancouver recording 332 ship visits and an astonishing 1.25 million guests, significantly higher than initial predictions for the 2023 Alaska season.

Some ports have been exceptionally busy, such as Halifax welcoming five ships in one day at the peak of fall foliage season, a stunning way to end the cruise season as approximately 6,400 guests were able to enjoy brilliant colors that day.

Cruise Ships Docked in Vancouver
Cruise Ships Docked in Vancouver (Photo Credit: Iryna Makukha / Shutterstock)

In total, 2023 numbers are expected to be extraordinary, though full totals will not be available for some weeks after the close of the season as individual ports tally their ship visits and travelers served.

The season’s great performance isn’t due just to cruise ships, however, and it is thanks to everyone involved in the industry and in support of cruise travel that so many visitors have been able to enjoy Canada this year.

“As we bid farewell to this extraordinary summer cruise season, we extend our appreciation to the passengers, suppliers, community partners and government agencies that made it possible,” said Kelly Craighead, President and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

This performance is exceptional, even at a time when strikes threatened port operations and other challenges faced the industry, yet cruising continued to sail forth.

Economic Benefits on the Rise

With cruising’s comeback in full force, the economy of port communities – and by extension, ripple effects throughout the Canadian economy – is strong.

In 2019, the most recently available data for a full cruise season, the cruise industry supported 30,000 local jobs and contributed $4.3 billion to the nation’s economy. With 2023 numbers even higher, it stands to reason that the economic impact will also be larger and continuing to grow.

Cruise Port in Vancouver, Canada

“With consumer intent to cruise now at an all-time high, we anticipate an equally robust 2024, bringing significant economic benefit to the Canadian economy,” said Craighead.

Many cruise lines are reporting strong bookings for 2024 and beyond, especially for Alaska cruises and specialty sailings like fall foliage forays to the Canadian maritime provinces.

Sustainability at the Forefront

It isn’t just full steam ahead, however, as cruise lines are also highly cognizant of the need for sustainable and responsible cruising. This is especially critical in delicate environments like the Canadian coast, where the pristine conditions must be preserved as natural beauty is a tremendous draw for travelers.

“The industry has implemented additional environmental measures developed in collaboration with Transport Canada and has been actively participating in planning for new shore power facilities,” said Craighead. “In fact, between now and 2028, virtually all new cruise ships will be equipped to plug in to shore-side electricity where available, reducing emissions in port by up to 98%.”

Shore power permits cruise ships with the capability to plug in to port electrical grids while docked, which in turn allows the ships to turn off their engines and dramatically reduce emissions and noise.

Multiple cruise lines are equipping their ships for shore power, with Cunard Line finishing retrofitting all its ships for shore power in August 2023.

Similarly, influential and renowned Alaska-sailing Holland America Line completed its fleet capability for shore power in September 2023, and other cruise lines are working toward the same goal.

Where will sustainability and the eagerness for great vacations take Canada cruises in the years to come? Set sail and find out!

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