Nanaimo’s first cruise ship of the year docked in the city Sunday morning.

With close to 600 passengers, the Silver Muse is a relatively smaller cruise ship, but it’s 12-hour stop was welcomed by most downtown businesses.

“We always experience a lot of business when the cruise ships are in,” said Patricia Lee of Flying Fish, a cooking, living and gift store.

“We haven’t had a bad day so far. They’re buying things.”

Nanaimo is hosting three cruise ships this year, less than officials had previously hoped.

No one at the Nanaimo Port Authority returned calls from CHEK News today but earlier this year the Port Authority said a malicious letter, sent to cruise lines close to two years ago, had sabotaged this year’s cruise season.

No one at the Port saw the letter but said those in the industry, who received it, called with concerns that the Nanaimo cruise ship dock was unsafe.

“We had to assure them that it wasn’t but people believe negative before they believe positive so that could’ve quite significantly impacted the business,” said Ian Marr, Nanaimo Port Authority’s CEO in an interview on April 5.

Since the Port Authority built the nearly $25 million cruise ship facility in 2010 it’s hosted 37 large cruise ships.

But growth is expected. Next year the Port Authority believes there will be seven cruise ship stops matching their highest year in 2013.

“Seven next year sounds really great,” said Lee. “That will bring a lot of business to us.”

And the reviews from passengers visiting were positive.

“There was lots going on in the park and it’s just been lovely,” said Christine Baker, a British cruise ship passenger.

“It’s a fantastic spot and volunteers were really delightful and so helpful,” said John Dover, an Aussie cruise ship passenger.

“Like going after LA and Las Vegas it’s like going back in time a little bit. It’s very very nice,” said Kathy Andera, another cruise ship passenger.

There are hopes positive passenger reviews will also help lead to more cruise ships sailing into Nanaimo’s waters in the future.

Kendall Hanson