First cruise ship of 2023 docks at Victoria’s Ogden Point: ‘This will be a busy place’

The Sapphire Princess docked at Ogden Point on April 11, 2023.

It’s a sign that summer is right around the corner: the first cruise ship of the year docked in Victoria Tuesday, launching a season where 324 ships are expected to make a stop in the capital city.

The Sapphire Princess from Princess Cruise Lines alone has a capacity for 2,600 passengers. Multiply that by hundreds of ships over the season and you can see why the cruise industry is vital to the region, officials say.

“This will be a busy place all summer and busy into downtown Victoria,” says Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO Robert Lewis-Manning.

In an industry battered by the pandemic, 2023 is expected to bring a big rebound in the fortunes for the industry.

More than 850,000 visitors will arrive in Victoria throughout the season, bringing with them a financial boost to downtown as well as Greater Victoria, according to business and tourism officials.

“It’s about $130 million a year into the economy here that cruise ships represent every year,” says Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Williams.

“So again during the pandemic we didn’t see that injection of money so it’s great to have it back again.”

With the provincial government announcing last week a $9-million investment for electric shore plug-in power at Ogden Point, the cruise industry is also looking at a greener future. The federal government has not yet committed to funding the project, which is estimated to cost more than $30 million.

“We’re talking about developing our master plan for this facility and other facilities at the Harbour Authority and that will happen over the next few years,” said Lewis-Manning.

Despite colder-than-normal temperatures, passengers from the Sapphire Princess were eager to explore Victoria Tuesday.

“We just walked in downtown Victoria and hopefully it’s not going to rain, and maybe go to Chinatown to have some food,” one passenger told CHEK News.

“We’re going to a hop-on hop-off bus, we’re going to see the gardens, and then we’re going to do the seaplane,” said another traveler from Florida.

Of the 324 ships arriving in Victoria this year, the Norwegian Bliss will have the highest capacity for passengers, at 4,250, and is expected to stop 29 times, starting on April 12.

The longest ships are the Quantum of the Sea and Ovation of the Seas, each at 1141 feet. The two ships are expected to make a combined number of 41 stops.

The last ship of the year is scheduled to arrive on Oct. 31, which will be the Norwegian Sun.

READ MORE: B.C. invests $9 million to shore power for cruise ships in Victoria

Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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