Canada’s Port of Vancouver, in British Columbia, is wrapping up a record-breaking cruise season, having welcomed the highest number of cruise guests in its history. Vancouver is a popular destination on Alaska cruise itineraries, both as a homeport and a full-day port call.
Port Welcomes 1.25 Million Cruise Arrivals
When Holland America Line’s Koningsdam departs the Port of Vancouver on October 24, 2023, the ship will officially close the port’s cruise season, which saw a record 1.25 million cruise guests visit the destination. The arrivals number reflects a 54% increase compared to 2022.
The arrivals number is slightly higher than the port predicted in spring 2023, as the season was gearing up to start, when officials expressed hope that arrivals would break the 1 million mark.
The Port of Vancouver, which operates the Canada Place cruise terminal, can accommodate up to four cruise ships at a time. During the 2023 season, a record 332 ships either called or operated roundtrip sailings from the port, versus 307 last year — a 9% hike.
“Cruise returned to Vancouver emphatically this year after several seasons impacted by the global pandemic—with 2023 seeing record passenger numbers, near-record cruise ship visits and the Canada Place terminal getting further international recognition as a world-class cruise facility,” said Peter Xotta, vice president of operations and supply chain at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.
As the 2,650-guest Koningsdam departs the port this week, Holland America Line and port officials will hold an event to mark the close-out of the season. The cruise line typically homeports multiple ships in Vancouver for its Alaska itineraries, and a few in Seattle, which usually call at Vancouver. In all, Holland America Line guests accounted for about 25% of the port’s total arrivals.
“We are honored to have been part of the Port of Vancouver’s biggest cruise season ever, with 25% of guests sailing on five Holland America Line ships,” said Beth Bodensteiner, chief commercial officer for Holland America Line.
“We see this as further evidence that the cruise industry has rebounded in a remarkable way. We’re proud to call Vancouver a homeport and look forward to another great season in 2024,” added Bodensteiner.
The 2023 season saw several inaugural ship visits, including Norwegian Cruise Line’s 4,000-guest Norwegian Encore, Royal Caribbean’s 2,543-guest Brilliance of the Seas, Silveursea’s 392-guest Silver Whisper, and Seabourn’s 264-guest Seabourn Venture.
Other mega-ship calls at Vancouver this year included Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, both with capacity for 4,180 guests at double occupancy,
Cruise Traffic Buoys Local Economy
Alaska witnessed a robust cruise season overall, and was in high demand as cruisers embraced the Last Frontier State in the post-pandemic era. Occupancy rates on ships that visited Vancouver averaged 95% across the season, reaching 96% in the high-season summer months, bringing welcome revenue to the regional economy that supports Vancouver’s cruise industry.
“The cruise sector’s strong performance this year has been a critical catalyst for the local tourism and hospitality industries—supporting countless local jobs and businesses,” said the port authority’s Xotta.
Bookings for the 2024 season indicate that Vancouver will attract roughly the same number of ships bound for Alaska’s Inside Passage and other pristine destinations.
Use of Shore Power Continues to Rise
In more welcome news concerning port operations, the port authority revealed that close to 75% of all cruise ships calling at Vancouver in 2023 utilized shore power installations, reducing the amount of emissions.
The percentage shows a consistent increase, up from 70% in 2022 and 50% in 2019, as more cruise ships become shore-power enabled.
The port’s Canada Place cruise terminal in 2009 became the first port in Canada (and third in the world) to provide shore power to ships equipped to use it. Plugging into shore power enables ships to draw energy from land-based power grids and turn off their engines, while continuing to run hotel operations while docked.
Its shore power capabilities has allowed the Port of Vancouver to cut port-related greenhouse gas emissions by more than 38,000 tons since 2009.