WATCH: Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth docks in Victoria for the first time, marking a new era for one of the most famous cruise lines in the world. Tess van Straaten reports.
It’s not every day you get to welcome a queen.
But the Queen Elizabeth docked at Ogden Point Thursday morning, marking Cunard Cruise Line’s inaugural visit to Victoria.
“It’s an exciting day for Victoria,” says Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) CEO Ian Robertson. “Cunard have put Victoria in their itinerary because they want to be here. It’s not a regulatory requirement.”
Cunard’s one of the most famous cruise lines in the world — it once ran the largest Trans-Atlantic passenger line.
The Queen Elizabeth is the youngest ship in its fleet, following in the famous wake of the iconic QEII and the original Queen Elizabeth.
And now, after a more than two-decade break, the luxury line is returning to the Alaska run.
Passengers on the maiden voyage say a full day port call in Victoria is a big bonus.
“I think it’s great good luck,” says Laurie Gilbert, who’s visiting from Ontario. “It’s a nice place to visit.”
“It’s good,” adds United Kingdom visitor Bob Holder. “It gives us more time than we’ve had in other ports so it’s a nice place to come and explore properly.”
Victoria is becoming a more and more popular destination but the bigger goal is to make the Garden City a home port, which would mean a much bigger economic benefit.
“There are a few regulatory hurdles we have to cross, that being working out a relationship with U.S. customs and border patrol and we’re working on that but that’s pretty much it,” says Robertson.
The GVHA had hoped to have Victoria as a home port starting next year.
That won’t happen but officials are quick to point out other positive changes.
“We’re seeing record number of people walking off the terminal, which is fantastic,” Robertson says. “It’s something we’re really trying to promote.”
At least 260 ships and more than 700,000 passengers will visit Victoria this cruise season.