Over 50,000 Cruise Passengers to Swamp Major Homeport

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The Port of Vancouver is expecting to see more than 50,000 cruise passengers either embarking or debarking vessels over the long holiday weekend in British Columbia from August 5-7.

This exceptional number of guests will likely create a high demand for public transportation and potential traffic snarls that travelers should be aware of so they can plan accordingly.

Busy Cruise Traffic Expected Over Long Weekend

August 5-7 is a long holiday weekend in British Columbia thanks to British Columbia Day on Monday, August 7, 2023.

Always celebrated as a public holiday on the first Monday in August as a day when schools, public offices, and most businesses are closed, the day will likely increase traffic in downtown Vancouver just as the cruise port has an exceptionally busy weekend.

Three vessels are expected at the Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal on the actual holiday on Monday: Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jewel, and Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth.

The three ships serve 2,400, 2,376, and 2,092 guests, respectively, when booked at double occupancy. When combining both debarking and embarking travelers, more than 13,700 cruise passengers are expected to transit through Canada Place on Monday.

Cruise Ship in Vancouver
Cruise Ship in Vancouver (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock)

This follows an equally busy Sunday, when Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Eclipse, Royal Caribbean International’s Brilliance of the Seas, and Holland America Line’s Noordam – and their combined 13,800 debarking and embarking cruise guests – will use the terminal.

Saturday, August 5 has been the least busy day of the weekend for the cruise terminal with just two ships docked: Princess Cruises’ Majestic Princess and Holland America Line’s Koningsdam, with a combined total of 12,400 guests coming and going from their cruise vacations.

Add in totals from the Friday visits of Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Millennium and Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess (13,800 combined guests for both arriving and departing travelers), and more than 53,700 guests are moving through the cruise terminal in the four consecutive days.

Record-Breaking Cruise Traffic

These fantastic numbers indicate a surge in cruise travel and record-breaking visits to the Canada Place Cruise Terminal.

“We are on track for a bumper cruise season in 2023, as tourists and cruise passengers return to the region and the award-winning Canada Place cruise terminal at the Port of Vancouver,” said Mandy Chan, cruise services manager at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

A record 331 cruise ship visits scheduled for the entire sailing season from April through October, and the port estimates as many as 1.3 million travelers may pass through Canada Place during the season. This is 10% higher than the 1.1 million passengers recorded in 2019, the highest numbers the cruise port has ever seen.

Cruise Ships Docked in Vancouver, Canada
Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock

Increased cruise traffic, however, also means increased congestion around the cruise port and higher demand for ride shares, taxis, and other public transportation.

“Tourists and locals planning to visit Canada Place or nearby areas over the summer and early fall should plan ahead and prepare for crowds and increased traffic,” advises Chan.

Local police and additional port staff are planned to be on hand during all busy days, particularly multi-ship weekends. Authorities will be directing traffic, managing pedestrian flow, and assisting travelers to keep lines moving and ensure efficient passenger processing for both embarkation and debarkation.

Cruise lines ask that passengers arrive within their scheduled embarkation appointments to minimize crowding and wait times, and guests should be sure to have their documents and identification in order to facilitate customs processing where required.

Local Economy to Benefit

The increased cruise traffic is a boon to local retailers, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses in downtown Vancouver, where the Canada Place Cruise Terminal is located.

Vancouver, Canada
Photo Credit: Hannamariah / Shutterstock

Many cruisers choose to arrive in the city early for extra exploration prior to setting sail, or may stay in the area a night or two after their cruise ends. This leads to a greater economic impact and more support for local jobs at Canada’s largest port, in addition to the taxes and fees collected from cruise lines that berth at the port.

For all of British Columbia, cruise travel contributes more than $1.3 billion to the local economy annually, including cruise line fees, passenger spending, and crew member spending.

The ongoing labor dispute impacting port operations affects cargo and other aspects of the port facility, and is not affecting cruise operations.

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