Quebec’s 2023 Cruise Season Shatters Records

Quebec City is proving to be an increasingly popular cruise destination, welcoming more ships and passengers than ever in 2023.

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The Port of Quebec has just capped off its longest and most successful cruise season to date, welcoming over 150,000 cruise passengers during the entire year.

While the summer and especially fall seasons are incredibly popular for the French-Canadian city, starting in January 2025, cruises will also be sailing in winter from Quebec. 

The iconic Le Commandant Charcot from Ponany, which has icebreaking capacity, will be sailing the St. Lawrence River, giving guests a unique perspective. The arrival of the Ponant cruise ship will make Quebec a nearly year-round cruise destination. 

A Season of Unprecedented Growth

This year, the Port of Quebec has outdone itself, welcoming over 154,000 guests. The season was the longest in the Port’s history, starting April 25 and ending on November 5, 2023. 

No less than 131 calls were made by 41 cruise ships sailing for 28 cruise lines, including Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean International.

The remarkable upsurge highlights the growth that Quebec City has seen in 2023. In 2022, the city welcomed just 92.000 cruise passengers, during 96 cruise ship calls.

Quebec City Cruise in Autumn
Quebec City Cruise in Autumn (Photo Credit: iPIX Stock / Shutterstock)

Mario Girard, CEO of the Port of Quebec, reflected on the season’s success, stating: “We are more than happy with this 2023 international cruise season. The increasing figures of this last season and the popularity of the destination confirm that our efforts to develop the cruise industry in a responsible and sustainable manner are bearing fruit.”

The economic benefits from these visits have been significant. Tourisme Québec has estimated that the cruise ships coming to Quebec benefited the local economy by $85.9 million. 

Significant Increase in Homeport Operations

This season marked a significant achievement for Quebec City’s cruise industry, setting a record with 32 instances of cruise ships using the city’s port for boarding and disembarkation operations. This surge in homeport activities can be largely attributed to the new Cruise Terminal 30, which opened on July 6, 2022.

Despite the hefty investment of over 30 million dollars in constructing the terminal, the remarkable growth in cruise ship calls and passenger numbers indicates that the terminal is rapidly justifying its cost.

Robert Mercure, general director of Destination Québec: “We are proud of this season’s results, which reflect our continued commitment to providing exceptional experiences for our visitors and positioning ourselves as a destination of choice on the global stage.”

Quebec

Despite the significant growth in passenger arrivals that Quebec City is seeing, the city is also doing its best to limit the number of guests. The Port has employed a strategy of limiting the number of guests to 15,000 per day and capping homeport operations at two so guests that do visit the city can get the most out of their visit.

Robert Mercure, general director of Destination Québec: “International cruises play an important role in promoting Quebec, transforming each visitor into an ambassador of the magic and richness of our destination. They also allow us to extend the tourist clientele into the fall, and to generate additional nights and benefits for the industry. 

One of the new international cruise ships to come to Quebec City will be doing so in the winter of 2025.

The Start of Winter Cruises From Quebec

The Port of Quebec also revealed that starting January 2025, it will start hosting winter cruises. Le Commandant Charcot from PONANT will be pioneering these voyages, navigating the icy St. Lawrence in the winter season. This initiative marks a new chapter in the cruise industry, offering unique experiences to guests and extending the tourism season.

The 31,300 gross tons Le Commandant Charcot is a state-of-the-art icebreaking cruise ship operated by Ponant. The vessel is the world’s first electric hybrid icebreaker and cruise ship, powered by LNG, Marine Diesel, and battery packs installed on board, which allows Le Commandant Charcot to sail using electrical power alone for limited periods.

The icebreaker is the only PC2 ice-class cruise ship in the world, able to sail and break through thick layers of ice, making it ideally suited for cruises in the St. Lawrence River in January. 

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