Halifax port sees more cruise ships in 2015 than ever before

The Halifax Port Authority has released its 2015 numbers, which show a rise in the number of cruise ships and passengers over last year.

Halifax Port Authority says 141 vessels sailed into Halifax this year compared with 134 in 2014

Pearl Mist is a smaller cruise ship that visited the Port of Halifax eight times in 2015, helping to drive up the number of total vessel calls this season. (Aadel Haleem/CBC )

Halifax had more visits from cruise ships in the 2015 season than ever before, according to the city's port authority.

The authority released its latest numbers on Friday, and also highlighted increases in the number of cruise ship passengers over last year and how much the Nova Scotia economy benefited from the industry.

Here are the numbers recorded between April and November:

  • Vessel calls: 141 in 2015 versus 134 last year
  • Passengers: 222,309 in 2015 versus 217,305 last year
  • Economic impact: $104 million versus $50 million last year

While passenger totals rose over last year, it's not the highest number to ever enter Halifax during a season, according to Port of Halifax spokesman Lane Farguson.

"We saw more smaller vessels this year than we had in previous years and while it increases the number of vessel calls, it doesn't necessarily have the same number of passengers," he said. 

He said the Pearl Mist — operated by Pearl Seas — docked in Halifax eight times this season. It has a 210-passenger capacity, much smaller than large ships that carry more than 2,000.

Smaller vessels have an easier time travelling to ports of all sizes, Ferguson said, which helps spread economic benefits around the region. 

"Cruise is one of those interesting ones where you have to work together as a region," he said. "It's not enough for Halifax to be a strong port, you have to have strong offerings in Sydney and in Saint John, New Brunswick, and Corner Brook, Newfoundland." 

Economic impact

The port authority quantifies economic impact in part by how much passengers spend in the area and how much it costs to stock up a cruise ship with provisions. 

Last year, the port authority pegged the economic impact at $50 million, however that was based on spending numbers from 2008. This year's amount of $104 million is based on updated data from 2013. 

"That's not economic benefit for the Port of Halifax specifically, but it's for the entire region when you factor in how much the passengers are spending on tours and on restaurants and the provisioning that takes place," Farguson said.

"So the group that might be selling lobster or liquor to those cruise ships when they come into port. Plus the amount the port authority earns off of the passenger tariff and the berthing fees and all that." 

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