Cruise ship visits to Nanaimo dip for 2018, Port Authority looking for alternate amenities

By Spencer Sterritt
March 15, 2018 - 4:20pm Updated: March 15, 2018 - 6:57pm

The large cruise ship Explorer of the Seas, which is visiting Nanaimo again this year. Ian Holmes/NanaimoNewsNOW Staff

NANAIMO — Less cruise ships will visit the Harbour City this year as the Nanaimo Port Authority shifts focus to smaller, more intimate experiences for passengers.

The 2018 schedule shows only two large cruise ships will visit, with the Star Princess arriving in April and the Explorer of the Seas making two trips in May and September. Smaller boats the NG Sea Bird and NG Sea Lion are set to arrive in May.

In 2017 and 2016, cruise ships visited six times, up from the three visits in 2015.

David Mailloux, communications director for the Port Authority, told NanaimoNewsNOW they'd enthusiasticly welcome more cruise ships.

“We're able to handle more ships and we can handle the biggest they can provide. The cruise lines, you can't always tell them what to do and they do it. We have to go with what they award to us.”

In 2017, former NPA president and CEO Bernie Dumas told NanaimoNewsNOW their goal was roughly 25 cruise ships a year and he was "disappointed" with the current pace of cruise ship visits.

Mailloux admitted the port isn't getting the numbers they'd like and are trying to tap into a different market to boost cruise ship visits.

Rather than be dependent on major cruise ships, Mailloux said the port wants to attract more small cruise ships which cater to more intimate adventures.

“It's the experiences, like Newcastle Island, something involving a smaller group and you get a little more personalized service, a better experience you can bring home and maybe draw you back. We have to see ourselves as a niche product area because that's where some of the lines are going.”

Given ongoing conversations with Tourism Vancouver Island and a renewed focus on developing experiences for tourists, Mailloux said he's optimistic for the future.

“We're not getting the numbers we would like but there's another market out there we're turning our attention to. We're told by the cruise lines that it's in fact something they're looking really hard at.”

The Port Authority previously said a cruise ship visit injects roughly $150,000 into the local economy.


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