The cruise ship season commenced last month with the arrival of the Emerald Princess into Canada Place. The Port of Vancouver is anticipating approximately 290 vessel visits throughout 2019 which would “mark an all-time record for cruise passengers through Canada Place at the Port of Vancouver” with passengers totaling more than 1 million. The cruise ship season, which started March 29th and will end with the Star Princess on November 1, will include the arrival of the Ovation of the Seas. This Royal Caribbean Quantum Class ship, with the capacity to carry 4,905 passengers, holds the record for the largest cruise ship to ever call the Port of Vancouver and will be here May 13th and September 20th.
With each call producing about $3 million in economic activity, the cruise ship industry is certainly a massive benefit to Vancouver as a whole although it does not come without its challenges. For instance, with the increase in ship sizes that is expected over the years to come (ex. the Ovation of the Seas which can hold about 4,900 passengers) the Port of Vancouver along with the Pacific Pilotage Authority have had to adapt to the changing conditions. On March 18, 2019 the Port of Vancouver released a Notice of Amendment to the Port Information Guide which proposes a new English Bay routing system (see the above image). This amendment is designed to alleviate issues with the air draft of larger size vessels entering the harbour by making the approach at less of angle which will allow the ship to be in “greater control over their rate of turn as they transit under the Lions Gate Bridge.”
Additionally, the increase in vessel traffic this time of year poses constraints on the Pacific Pilotage Authority with pilot and tug availability. The PPA publishes the entire cruise ship schedule prior to commencement of the season in order to bring on additional staff and to avoid any last-minute surprises although this cannot always be avoided especially with tug shortages. Regardless of the challenges the industry poses, the industry is a significant boost to Vancouver’s economy (including the pubs and restaurants around the waterfront!).