The last cruise ship of the season docked at Victoria’s Ogden Point on Thursday morning.
The Crown Princess, which arrived in Victoria Thursday morning, is the final cruise ship of the season. It’s the 329th ship to dock at the port, breaking a record previously set in 2019.
While fewer than originally scheduled for 2022, the 329 visits and roughly 715,000 passengers that arrived this cruise season surpasses the 257 ships seen in 2019 with 709,000 passengers.
“There’s a lot of pent-up demand a lot of interest and in terms of ease of travel this region is relatively easy to travel to,” said Lindsay Gaunt, director of cruise development with the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.
But after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the season did get off to a challenging start. The first ship of the season was cancelled and there were further cancellations and delays before things settled down and ship occupancy levels started rising significantly.
While the return of cruise is welcome to local tourism operators, the changes in schedule with some ships arriving at night along with a new cruise shuttle route, meant that businesses downtown didn’t necessarily see a correlating boom in business.
“This year in particular with some of the challenges around staffing, even if the businesses wanted to stay open late to try to take advantage of that they didn’t have the staff available so they had to manage that resource,” said Jeff Bray, CEO of the Downtown Victoria Business Association.
But there is hope with some feedback and a strong end to the season that we may see a bigger boom of cruise passengers through the city next year.
“We started this season with occupancy levels around 35 per cent ending the season between 85 to 95 per cent occupancy levels and we really expect and what we’re hearing from our cruise line partners is that we’re going to be starting 2023 at very high levels of occupancy,” said Gaunt.
Victoria is the busiest cruise ship port of call in the country.