The Port of Quebec officially opened its cruise season with the arrival of Viking Cruises’ Viking Octantis. The 2023 season will see more ships calling at the Canadian port versus last year, while breaking its record for the most embarkations and disembarkations in one season.
More Than 40 Cruise Ships to Call in Quebec
Viking Cruises’ 378-guest Viking Octantis, the cruise line’s only expedition ship, became the first vessel to call at the Port of Quebec, ushering in a robust 2023 season for the Canadian port with its arrival on April 25.
In a welcoming ceremony, Port of Québec President and CEO Mario Girard awarded a medal to Viking Octantis Captain Jorgen Cardestig, honoring the cruise ship as the first vessel of the year to dock at the Port of Québec.
Forty-one cruise ships from a wide variety of cruise lines will call this year at the port, which will see a record-setting 30 embarkation and disembarkation operations during the destination’s six-month-long cruising season. In 2022, the first season following the pandemic shutdown, 28 different ships called at Quebec between April and November.
“We are very pleased to inaugurate this cruise season with the arrival of the Viking Octantis. We are expecting close to a hundred ship stopovers again this year, which confirms that Québec City is a choice destination for cruises on the Saint Lawrence,” said Girard.
New port facilities include a new cruise terminal, Terminal 30, which accommodates large ships and can receive 2,500 cruise guests at a time. It opened in summer 2022. Additionally, the port has expanded cruise ship services with the opening of the newly renovated Wharf 93, where more ships can dock.
Even with the expanded facilities, the Port of Quebec since 2014 has capped the number of cruise ships and guests that can visit the city.
No more than 15,000 cruise passengers can visit the port on any one day and the number of ships docking in one day is limited to four. The policies were enacted to ensure the best experiences for cruise guests and local residents.
Smaller Ports Capitalize on Quebec’s Success
The increase in ships calling at Quebec translates into good economic news for the smaller ports along the Saint Lawrence River that benefit from port calls as ships sail to and from the popular Port of Quebec.
Cruise the Saint Lawrence Association, a development and marketing organization that represents nine ports of call along the eastern Canadian coast, said that 43 cruise ships will call at the region’s ports this year, a substantial increase from the 28 ships that visited the ports in 2022.
The number of individual port calls will rise in 2023 to 300-plus, up from 248 last year, bringing a total of roughly 460,000 cruise visitors to the smaller Canadian ports.
Destination Québec City General Manager Robert Mercure said, “The arrival of the first ship at the Port of Québec always causes a certain frenzy in us because it also represents the beginning of the summer tourist season. Cruises are an important component for the Québec City region exposure, and they remain an incredible window to highlight the beauty of the Saint Lawrence River and the city, as many cruise passengers return to visit us after a stopover.”
Looking Toward a Shore-Power Future
Port of Quebec officials said that sustainable development is a priority as the regional cruise industry continues to grow. Among the goals is electrifying the port’s main operating docks and moving toward large-scale shore power.
Ships that have the technology to plug into shoreside facilities do not have to run their engines to power hotel operations while in port, significantly reducing emissions.
The large-scale electrification of cruise ships arriving at ports along the Saint Lawrence is promising, the officials said, but they noted that financial assistance from the government will be required to install the shore power technology.
The economic benefits of a growing cruise industry affects the eastern Canadian region. According to the Cruise the Saint Lawrence Association, in pre-pandemic 2019, the cruise industry brought more than $700 million to the Saint Lawrence region, including $106 million into Quebec City alone.
Along with Viking Cruises, other cruise lines scheduled to call at the Port of Quebec this year include Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Explora Journeys, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and others.
The eastern Canadian cruise season runs through early November. The region is prime cruising ground for fall foliage voyages that often combine Canadian and New England ports of call.