Western Canada Cruise Port Sets 2023 Record 

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The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority concluded its 2023 season with fewer cruise ships visiting this year — although the port actually processed a record number of passengers due to higher occupancy levels. This led to an impressive season and an economic boom for the popular cruise port.

A Bumper 2023 Cruise Season for Victoria Harbour

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, located in Victoria on Vancouver Island in Canada’s British Columbia, finished its 2023 cruise season on October 29, 2023, posting some impressive results.

The Harbour Authority announced that it greeted 326 vessels for a total of 970,000 cruise tourists from April to October 2023. While Victoria saw three fewer ships sail into its port this year compared to ships visiting in 2022, the city actually saw a 26% increase in cruise visitors due to enhanced ship occupancy.

“Victoria is a highly rated destination by cruise passengers,” the Harbour Authority’s director of cruise development, Lindsay Gaunt, pointed out. 

Victoria is a common stop for Alaska-bound cruises by Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and others. These cruises usually depart from Seattle or Vancouver and swing by Victoria on their way to Alaskan destinations like Juneau, Ketchikan, and Glacier Bay National Park.

In 2019, a study revealed that passengers aboard cruise lines spend roughly $86 per person in Victoria. This expenditure includes annual totals of approximately $23.7 million allocated for excursions and local transportation, $6.7 million splurged on food and drink, plus $14.6 million spent on retail products.

Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria, British Columbia (Photo Credit: Russ Heinl / Shutterstock)

Furthermore, disembarking crew members spend an average of $117 each — contributing a total of $11.4 million to the local economy. 

“With the demand for cruising to Alaska continuing to be very strong,” Gaunt continued, “Victoria remains a port of choice for cruise visitors. This demand will result in a continued positive economic impact of cruise to the Region.”

Read Also: Victoria Welcomes 10 Millionth Cruise Passenger

Cruise companies have also bolstered the local economy in Victoria by investing $84 million in various services, including dockworkers, storage, port charges, transportation, and ship agents, which creates additional jobs and a positive economic impact in the region.

Visiting Ships and Shore Power Initiatives

During the 2023 season, four vessels marked their inaugural visits to Victoria: Carnival LuminosaMS Insignia, L’Austral, and Scenic Eclipse. Each ship was greeted with a traditional exchange of plaques and appropriate fanfare to mark their momentous maiden calls.

Looking ahead, Celebrity Edge, a more recent and ultra-modern addition to Celebrity Cruises’ fleet, will make her first journey to Victoria in 2024. 

Celebrity Edge Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: RVillalon / Shutterstock

In contrast, this summer marked the conclusion of Celebrity Solstice‘s annual visits to Victoria, which began in 2013. Celebrity Solstice has brought nearly half a million tourists to the city during her tenure there, but the ship will now be setting its course for Vancouver in 2024.

Additionally, in April 2023, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in British Columbia announced a substantial contribution of $9 million towards shore power initiatives, underlining the industry’s commitment to sustainable practices that are good for the planet and reducing carbon emissions.

Shore power permits equipped cruise ships to hook up to the local electrical grid while docked in port, which in turn allows vessels to turn off their primary engines. This reduces both airborne emissions as well as local noise while a ship is docked.

Canada’s Record-Setting 2023 Cruise Season

It wasn’t just Victoria that set cruise records in 2023. This year has seen remarkable successes for several other Canadian cruise ports

The Port of Vancouver, for instance, experienced an impressive influx with 332 ship visits and an astounding 1.25 million guests for the year. These figures far exceeded the initial predictions for the 2023 Alaska sailing season.

Other ports also experienced increased activity, exemplified by Halifax (the capital of Nova Scotia), where a staggering number of ships — five in total — graced this city’s Atlantic Ocean docks on a single day during the autumn foliage season. 

Cruise Ship Docked in Halifax
Cruise Ship Docked in Halifax (Photo Credit: Simona Donkova / Shutterstock)

The resurgence of people booking cruising holidays in Canada or that cruises pass through the nation has revitalized the economies of port communities, creating ripples of prosperity. 

In 2019, which represents the most recent comprehensive data for a full cruise season, the cruise industry helped sustain the livelihoods of 30,000 Canadian workers and injected billions into the national economy. 

With 2023 numbers surpassing previous records, these positive statistics are only set to increase, which is good news for Canadians involved in the cruise sector as well as cruise enthusiasts looking forward to great vacations in the Great White North.

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