‘I love it’: First cruise ship in five years docks in Nanaimo, more on the way

'I love it': First cruise ship in five years docks in Nanaimo, more on the way
The Seabourn Odyssey cruise ship is pictured in Nanaimo on May 9, 2024.

Rosa Wilding was joyful as she greeted cruise ship passengers in Nanaimo on Thursday.

“I love it. I love seeing people, I love helping people,” said Wilding, a volunteer ambassador for Nanaimo.

It had been five years since the last cruise stopped in the Harbour City, and the Nanaimo resident said she has missed showcasing this city she loves.

“Yes, because I was working the last cruise ship before and that was a big one. So it was hard, and it was sad because it brings so much to the city itself,” said Wilding.

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So the arrival of the Seabourn Odyssey, carrying 350 people to Nanaimo’s $24-million cruise ship terminal, was a cause for celebration Thursday as passengers disembarked the massive vessel to take tours and explore for the day.

“We couldn’t have wished for a better day,” said cruise ship passenger and Florida resident Leo Perkowski.

“And they gave us chocolate so how can you complain. Sun and chocolate,” said his wife and fellow passenger Nieves Perkowski.

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Tourists are pictured in front of the Seabourn Odyssey, the first cruise ship to visit Nanaimo in five years, in the background. (CHEK News)

“This is fantastic,” said cruise ship passenger and Australian resident Sue O’Donovan.

“What are you doing today?” asked CHEK News.

“Just wandering around town. Get on a hop on bus and see what goes,” said O’Donovan.

The Odyssey had started its voyage in Australia 80 days earlier, and picked up more passengers in Japan. It is the first cruise ship to stop in Nanaimo since 2019. That’s when, according to the Nanaimo Port Authority says, just as Nanaimo was beginning to gain a reputation as a port to stop at, the pandemic pulled the curtains on it.

“We’ve been working on that through the whole pandemic and trying to get them back,” said Ian Marr, president and CEO of the Nanaimo Port Authority.

“It hasn’t been easy because of how they’re attacking their business post-pandemic and we’re a very special, specialized port. We’re not a big port with tonnes of offerings that have been there a long time, so we have to re-establish our business,” he said.

The port is beginning to see success in new bookings.

“We’re happy to see two [cruise ships] this year, four next year and hopefully weekly in 2026,” said Marr.

The Seabourn Odyssey planned to depart Nanaimo on Thursday night. The next and final cruise ship to visit the city in 2024 is due to arrive in August.


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