British Columbia

Vancouver's cruise ship season could be boosted by loonie's fall

As the Alaska cruise season starts in Vancouver, the port is expecting 800,000 customers this year thanks to U.S. visitors drawn north by the cheap Canadian dollar.

800,000 cruise ship customers expected by Port Metro Vancouver this season

Thousands of passengers, mostly Americans, boarded the Ruby Princess at Canada Place in Vancouver Wednesday as Alaska cruise season officially began. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Vancouver's tourist industry and Port Metro Vancouver are making sunny predictions as the Alaska cruise season starts, hoping the low Canadian dollar will encourage U.S. travellers to stay longer and spend more.

The Alaska cruise season officially started yesterday with the arrival of the ship the Ruby Princess at the Canada Place terminal, the first of more than 200 visits planned for this year.

Many of the thousand passengers boarding the vessel were from the U.S., including Oregon, California, and Washington states.

"It's cheap. Can't beat the price," said passenger Donald Mui, who was travelling with his wife on their first cruise.

Visitors may spend more

The number of visitors expected — about 800,000 — is on par with previous years, but with the lower Canadian dollar, a tourism expert expects Americans to stay a little longer and spend more.

"They might add a nice dinner, go up to Whistler for a day, or do a whale watching tour," said David Tikkanen, the head of the tourism marketing program at BCIT.

"Hopefully we will see that incremental revenue from the tourists, who are spending a little bit more money while they are here."

The Canadian dollar is currently at about 83 cents US.

Each cruise ship visit means about $2 million in economic activity for Vancouver businesses, according to Port Metro Vancouver.

About 70 per cent of the passengers are from the U.S., about 15 per cent are Canadian and the rest are overseas, according to Canada Place.

With files from Tina Lovgreen

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