Port of Vancouver claims record year for cruise passengers

Organization’s figures actually show that 2019 is the second-largest season in its 33-year history

The Port of Vancouver is calling the 2019 cruise season the largest ever for cruise passengers despite earlier this year projecting that the year would be the second largest in the 33 years since cruise ships started docking in Vancouver.

“2019 was a very exciting and successful cruise season in Vancouver, with a record number of cruise passengers,” said Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s vice-president of planning and operations, Peter Xotta, in a release.

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The port authority did not reveal an exact number of passengers that it expects to have been on cruise ships during the season, which ends on Nov. 1. Instead it said that this year is expected to have 22 per cent more passengers than last year, when 895,000 passengers went on cruises out of Vancouver – more passengers than in any year since 2009, when there were 898,473 passengers.

That would put the number of passengers on cruise ships this year at 1,091,900 passengers, or 33,352 passengers fewer than in 2002, when a record 1,125,252 passengers went on cruises. That year may have been so successful in part because it followed the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and some people were concerned about flying.

Port authority officials earlier this year projected that about 1,077,000 people would be passengers on 290 cruise-ship voyages that would dock in Vancouver in 2019. On Oct. 31 it clarified that it expects there to be 288 ship visits, including a visit tomorrow, when the Star Princess leaves Vancouver to sail down the Pacific Coast to Los Angeles, before embarking on a 16-day round trip to Hawaii.

Regardless, the cruise sector is a key economic driver for the region; each cruise ship that visits Vancouver stimulates about $3 million in direct activity to the local economy. The 2020 cruise ship season is set to sail starting April 2.

The season came with several highlights. One was the return of the classic luxury cruise line Cunard after more than 20 years

Vancouver has much more competition than it did decades ago, thanks to expansion in Seattle and Victoria. The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority yesterday announced that 709,042 passengers were on 257 cruise ship calls this year.

Cruise ship passenger growth in Victoria may slow, however, given that Victoria city council earlier this month passed a controversial motion to limit the number of cruise ships coming into the city because of environmental concerns.




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