‘A lovely surprise’: Victoria welcomes 10-millionth cruise ship passenger

‘A lovely surprise’: Victoria welcomes 10-millionth cruise ship passenger
The Fairchild family (middle/left) and Lonergan family (right) are pictured arriving in Victoria as the 10-millionth cruise ship passengers.

The City of Victoria marked a milestone Wednesday with the arrival of its 10-millionth cruise ship passenger.

Two families who disembarked at Ogden Point on Wednesday morning received the title, and Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto and other harbour officials welcomed them with gift bags from the Bay Centre.

One family, from the U.K., said they were “absolutely” surprised by the occasion.

“A lovely surprise,” said Emma Lonergan, who was travelling with her husband, Liam, and their 13-year-old daughter.

The family came to Victoria onboard the Cunard Queen Elizabeth cruise, which they booked to celebrate the couple’s 14th wedding anniversary and their daughter’s recent birthday.

“So you’re stuck with me for another 14-plus years,” joked Emma.

The family is now planning to visit local shops and check out any live shows if they can.

“It’s nice and warm, which we’re not very used to,” added Emma.

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The other couple that received the 10-millionth cruise ship passenger title actually lives in Victoria.

The couple was on the Alaska cruise to unplug and enjoy the ship’s amenities.

“I think we’re sort of treating it like a bit of a staycation, visit downtown like every other tourist, then we’ll head back to the ship and enjoy an empty ship,” said Ryan Fairchild, who was with his wife, Rebecca.

“[It’s a] 10 day Alaska cruise, up and back, and this is the second to last day,” he said. “Then we’re back to Vancouver tomorrow, then we get to hop on a BC Ferries back, which I suspect will be a bit of a culture shock.”

The couple are air force reservists and work closely with the air cadet program in Greater Victoria.

“I was born and raised in Victoria,” said Rebecca. “I’m from Esquimalt, went to a local high school.”

Now Rebecca works as the commanding officer of 89 Pacific Air Cadet Squadron at the Bay Street Armoury. She said she was happy to revisit home for a day amid their trip.

Since the pair are from Victoria, Ryan says other cruise passengers have asked what there is to do in town, which offers the couple a chance for self-reflection.

“It forces us to look at our own city in ways that we wouldn’t normally look at, like, ‘Oh, where would we go?’” he said.

Decades of cruise travel

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) says 2023 marks 54 years of cruise ships visiting Victoria.

These days, the GVHA says the cruise industry injects tens of millions of dollars into the local economy each year, with visitors and crew members contributing $56 million annually, and cruise lines paying $84 million on warehousing, repairs and other services.

“Victoria welcomes and celebrates its 10-millionth cruise ship passenger,” said Alto in a statement.

“The cruise industry is a valued and vital part of a regional visitor industry that continues to create countless career opportunities and support the livelihood of Victorians,” she said.

According to the GVHA, the tourism industry is responsible for more than $40 million in annual salaries for local workers, including engineers, mechanics, entrepreneurs and more.


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