Some Victoria tourism operators celebrate cruise return, others disappointed


Holland America’s cruise ship Koningsdam made its second Canadian stop of the season in Vancouver Sunday, one day after it arrived at Victoria’s Ogden Point.

Businesses who rely on it say things started looking up the minute the ship docked.

“I actually cried a little bit, I’m a bit of a sap so I’m a crier but it was really really emotional for me to see that ship back in,” said Emily-May Bebb, owner of Victoria Carriage Tours.

Bebb says in one day, with one ship, the horse carriage operator went from struggling to booming.

“We had lineups and people having to wait for a couple of hours kind of situation basically we were just rolling until we couldn’t stay out any longer, there was more business than we could handle essentially,” she said.

And Bebb says that is a sign of good things to come especially considering the weather Saturday wasn’t ideal and the ship itself was only at about half capacity, with just over 1,200 passengers on board.

But not everyone is celebrating a successful start to the cruise season. For some businesses on lower Government Street, the arrival was anti-climactic.

“I’m so grateful that it’s back I look forward to a good season but I have to say I was a little sad and felt a little bit betrayed,” said Jill Glowicki, co-owner of Spirit of Victoria. “I could almost drop a pin, there was no one in sight.”

The city has changed the route for cruise shuttles this season, meaning the bus loads of tourists are now dropped further up the street than they were previously.

READ MORE: Victoria businesses say new cruise shuttle route is a ‘slap in the face’

And Glowicki says the only thing now guiding them to lower Government and the Inner Harbour is a simple sticker on the sidewalk.

“We need better signage, we need a tall sign stating where to go for different things but I felt, I felt really saddened by what I saw,” Glowicki said.

But Glowicki is hopeful things will turn around. 780,000 cruise passengers are expected in the city in the months ahead, a huge boost after two years of pandemic pain.

“We’re expecting to see three, four, maybe even five times the business we saw last summer thanks to the cruise ships coming back,” said Bebb.

The next ship is set to dock at Ogden Point on Saturday, April 16.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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