No cruise ships to come to Nanaimo this year – Nanaimo News Bulletin


With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Victoria and Vancouver expect cruise business to regain momentum, but the Port of Nanaimo berth will remain empty for the 2022 cruise season.

Jason Michell, Port of Nanaimo’s vice president of business development, confirmed that no cruise ships will be coming to Nanaimo this year.

Two cruise ships docked in Nanaimo in 2019. Michell said the port has been actively participating in port authority committees on the return to cruise at the national and provincial levels and has supported efforts to bring cruise business back to Canadian ports. But those efforts have yet to bear fresh fruit for Nanaimo.

“The sad thing was that we were targeting luxury cruise lines and actually had seven calls booked for 2020 and it looked like the effort was paying off,” Michell said. “We worked really hard with tourism experts to develop a new website with new categories for tourists and to be honest it started to catch on and this unfortunate COVID incident [happened] and then it all fell apart and you have to start all over again.”

There will be no shortage of cruise shops in BC’s major coastal cities this year. Greater Victoria Harbor Authority communications director Brian Cant said Victoria’s cruise ship schedule is “very fluid” as the season approaches, but said the port authority expects a busy year.

“We expect around 350 ships this year and an estimated 780,000 passengers,” Cant said in an email.

Vancouver forecasts that this year’s cruise tourism will be busier than in pre-pandemic seasons. Arpen Rana, senior communications advisor at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, said the cruise terminal will welcome more than 300 port calls, up from 288 in 2019. The first cruise ship of the 2022 season will arrive in Vancouver on April 7.

A 2019 study by the Cruise Lines International Association calculated the cruise industry’s economic impact on Canada’s economy at a total of $4.3 billion – 64 percent of which was generated in BC – and has been rising rapidly over the past decade.

Large luxury cruise ships that visited Nanaimo before the pandemic could bring more than 3,000 passengers and 2,000 crew ashore. Even a small cruise ship — like Silver Sea Cruises’ 596-passenger MV Silver Muse, which visited Nanaimo in June 2019 — can pull off a 12-hour layover. The Port of Nanaimo estimated that each passenger who disembarked spent an average of $80, potentially benefiting the local economy by $48,000.

Kim Smythe, CEO of the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, said the overall tourism losses during the pandemic have hurt a variety of businesses and said taking cruise lines out of the tourism market is a major achievement for BC

Jenn Houtby-Ferguson, interim chief executive of Tourism Nanaimo, said it’s disappointing that cruise lines won’t be returning this summer, but said her organization is committed to working with the Port of Nanaimo to attract the cruise market.

“It’s been a rough couple of years for the tourism industry here in Nanaimo and around the world, but we’re seeing positive signs that Canadians are looking to travel this spring and summer,” Houtby-Ferguson said in an email. “Leading indicators are showing that July and August are looking strong and Tourism Nanaimo looks forward to welcoming visitors back to our beautiful community.”

Michell said the Port of Nanaimo will continue its efforts to get the cruise business going again.

“For us, we’re still building and we’ll still take the opportunity with our tourism partners and pursue future deals,” Michell said. “We have inquiries for ’23 and ’24 and will continue to tap the pavement to continue trying to create opportunities for cruise tourism here.”

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