Next week, the Sapphire Princess will tie up at Ogden Point, becoming the first cruise ship to arrive in Victoria to kick off the 2023 season.
And after rough seas during the pandemic, it’s expected to be a return to calmer waters.
President and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association Kelly Craighead says 2023 will be an improvement over last year.
“I think that 2022 was a good year. It was still a little bit lumpy. I think ’23 is going to be even smoother sailing,” Craighead said.
A total of 324 ships are expected to make a port of call in Victoria this year, starting on April 11.
That’s less than the 331 from last year, but passenger numbers are expected to be up, according to Barry Penner, a legal advisor with Cruise Lines International Association.
“What’s really significant is I expect the occupancy rate on those ships that do come will be higher than last year,” Penner said.
That translates into more than 850,000 visitors, a record.
And with popularity surging, the industry itself is changing. In 2009, the Port of Vancouver became the first port in Canada, and third in the world, to introduce shore power. That allows cruise ships to draw electrical power and turn off their engines in port.
Now, the provincial government is investing millions in installing the shore power infrastructure at Ogden Point.
“So today, I’m very very pleased to be announcing that the Province of B.C. will invest $9 million towards helping deliver clean electric shore power at Ogden Point to cruise ships while they’re in port,” announced B.C.’s Transportation Minister Rob Fleming.
The shore power connection will allow up to two cruise ships at a time to plug into the local electricity grid. Then, their diesel generators will be turned off, reducing emissions and noise.
“It is the equivalent of removing something like 3400 vehicles from the capital region’s road network,” Fleming said.
So far, the federal government has not committed to funding the project, which is estimated to cost more than $30 million.
Design work will begin immediately, and it could take several years before a ship is plugged in.