Vancouver’s long list of glowing accolades has grown again now that it has been named as the ‘Best North American Homeport’ for cruise ships.
Across the continent, including Hawaii, 23 cities are classified as homeports for the cruise ship industry. According to the editors of top cruise website Cruise Critic, downtown Vancouver’s Canada Place ranks at the top in North America for cruise ship berthing facilities.
The five-sailed landmark perth was originally built for Expo ’86 as the Canada Pavilion and it boasts a central and highly accessible location with direct connections to luxurious hotels and amenities.
Elsewhere around the world, cruise ship ports are often built as unimpressive, barebone structures – never mind a facility like Canada Place, which has become one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks and popular tourist attractions. Some ports are also merely a place for ships to dock, built without any structures.
In addition to its port facilities, Vancouver’s scenic and natural appeal also plays a major factor in the ranking choice. From Cruise Critic:
Vancouver’s Canada Place is in a clean, walkable city surrounded by beautiful scenery. It’s connected to the Pan Pacific Hotel, which boasts shops, a spa and a food court. The port facilities are centrally located; it’s easy to make your way to Gastown, Stanley Park, Chinatown and Granville Island. Vancouver’s secondary facilities at Ballantyne Pier are 10 minutes away.
To accommodate growth in cruise ship passenger traffic, Canada Place was extended in 2001 to give the facility the capability to accommodate larger and additional ships. As many as four cruise ships can be berthed at any one time.
Although it has faced a difficult economic climate, challenges with a high $46 passenger head tax in Alaska, and tough competition from Seattle’s relatively new cruise ship business, Vancouver still remains as the primary gateway for cruises to Alaska and beginning in the Pacific Northwest.
In recent years, it has seen a major rebound with its share on the industry. Port Metro Vancouver reports that for the 2013 season, 820,000 passengers came through Vancouver on more than 235 cruise calls – up from 667,000 passengers on 191 calls in 2012.
This growth can also be attributed to the return of the Disney Wonder to Vancouver as the homeport for the 2013 Alaska cruise season. In 2011, Disney Cruise Line entered the Alaskan cruise market through Vancouver, but soon after its first season had ended the company announced it would move the ship’s homeport to Seattle.
However, Disney passengers gave the Vancouver experience a considerably higher rating even with the higher cost of airfare to Canada, which was the primary reason for the 2012 move to Seattle.
The Disney Wonder brought back 75,000 passengers to Canada Place this season and it was also joined by the return of the Norwegian Sun (45,000 passengers) and Holland America’s Amsterdam (50,000 passengers). Oceania’s Regatta presence this season was also a new addition to the city, calling Vancouver its homeport for the first time.
Vancouver is the main home port for cruises in Canada and it attracts passengers from across the world, but largely from the United States. Within the city, the cruise ship industry generates 7,000 jobs and creates more than $250 million in salaries and wages.
Cruise passenger and ship crew spending as well as cruise line supply purchases add $790 million to the local economy each year. Each cruise ship call generates upwards of $2 million in economic activity.
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