The Port of Halifax is preparing for a banner cruise ship season that will break a handful of records.
In fact, the Halifax Port Authority says the two largest cruise ships by passenger capacity the city has ever seen will dock this summer.
The Norwegian Breakaway is scheduled to arrive in Halifax on June 29 with a passenger capacity of 4,500, plus crew. This will be the highest number of cruise guests on a single vessel until the arrival of the Anthem of the Seas on Sept. 1. It has a passenger capacity of 4,905, plus crew.
Prior to this year, the ship carrying the most passengers to Halifax was the Regal Princess with 3,560.
A total of 135 vessels are expected in 2016, carrying about 240,000 passengers, not including crew.
Cruise ships bring an estimated $104.3 million in economic benefit for the local economy, says the port authority. This includes passenger spending on tourism-related activities, as well as provisioning cruise ships.
'Their dollar is going to go a lot further'
"A lot of these cruises are booked in advance, so where it's helpful for us is when these passengers get here — and a lot of them are coming up from Boston and New York — their dollar is going to go a lot further," said Lane Farguson, a spokesman with the Halifax Port Authority.
"That's going to encourage them to come back."
The busiest cruise ship day last year saw four ships bring more than 10,000 visitors to the Halifax waterfront.
"It's very, very active here and throughout the city as well as those cruise guests are coming from the Seaport area here and going off in all directions on the tour buses and into the downtown," said Farguson.
"You can really see and feel the impact on days like that."
However, the busiest day of 2016 will have passengers from just three ships.
The reason? The Anthem of the Seas is one of those in port that day, bringing nearly 5,000. It will be the largest ship, both in terms of size and number of passengers, to ever visit Halifax.
Until this year, Cunard's Queen Mary 2 has been the largest vessel in terms of physical size. It carries 2,500 to 2,600 passengers.
"I do get excited when I see these massive vessels tied up to our facilities here in Halifax," said Farguson.
Highlights of 2016 season
A few highlights of the 2016 season include:
- Eight inaugural calls.
- Two visits from the Queen Mary 2. Her first call will be July 3.
- Three visits from Disney Magic. Her first call will be Sept. 26.
- Sept. 15 is expected to be the busiest passenger day with over 9,000 passengers, plus crew.
- Oct. 7 is the only scheduled five-ship day.
The cruise season in Halifax begins April 30 with the arrival of the Veendam, a Holland America Line vessel.