‘Economic boom’: Sapphire Princess docks in Victoria as first ship of cruise season

Passengers on board the Sapphire Princess, the first BC cruise ship to dock in Victoria this year, were greeted by Lekwungen dancers and Songhees Nation representatives.

The Greater Victoria Harbor Authority (GVHA) welcomed the 209-meter cruise ship at the Breakwater District port on Tuesday (April 11), marking the start of the 2023 cruise season in Canadian waters.

Despite the cold and gusty conditions at Ogden Point, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bruce Williams said the arrival of the Sapphire Princess meant spring had finally sprung.

“It’s great that the cruise ship is back because it’s brought economic prosperity to the city,” he said. “People are scattered across the area – they stay in the city centre, they go to Butchart Gardens, they go to other sites around (Greater Victoria) and they bring all the energy we need to get us back on track.”

Williams said the cruise industry is expected to contribute about $130 million to the Capital Region’s economy this year alone.

The 209-meter Sapphire Princess, operated by Princess Cruises, docked at Ogden Point on April 11. (Austin Westphal/News Staff)

While the Sapphire Princess only had a brief 14-hour port stop in the Breakwater District, Jeff Bray, CEO of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, said it was an exciting start to what he believed would be a stable for British Columbia’s capital. Tourist season.

“It’s really fueling a lot of retail and food and beverage (sales) in our downtown. Of course, the first ship coming here in April bodes — I think — another strong year for the downtown years,” he said.

This year, GVHA expects a total of 320 ship calls. While the figure was slightly down on last year’s 329 ship calls, chief executive Robert Lewis Manning said passenger numbers rose from 735,000 to 850,000 due to increased ship capacity.

Earlier this month, the province announced a $9 million investment in shore power projects for ports in the Breakwater District. The shore power connection will allow cruise ships to plug into the local grid and shut down generators while docked, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and noise.

This summer, six cruise ships will also call at Victoria for the first time: Splendor of the Seas, Carnival Glow, L’Austral, MS Insignia, Scenic Eclipse II and Ocean Victory.

The arrival of Sapphire Princess in Victoria marks the start of the cruise season not only in Victoria, but across the province as well.

The ship heads to Vancouver tomorrow to start the city’s season.

The Port of Vancouver says it plans to have 331 cruise ships, potentially transporting more than 1 million tourists downtown, with cruise ships coming in and out almost every day during the peak season, from May to September.

With the arrival of the Carnival Miracle, Prince Rupert’s cruise season doesn’t start until May 3, but there are 43 more cruise ships and nearly 80,000 passengers scheduled to end the season at the north coast port in early October visit.

Cruise ships returned to British Columbia last year after a two-year hiatus related to COVID-19, and the Port of Vancouver said it welcomed a record 307 cruise ships, a 7 per cent increase over 2019 visits.

– Documents from Canadian media

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