British Columbia

Cruise ship season underway in Victoria

The 2016 cruise ship season is officially underway in Victoria, with the first ship coming and going from the city on Sunday. But the port authority is eager to have the ships stick around a little longer.

Victoria's Ogden point is the busiest port of call in the country, but ships only stay 5 to 16 hours

The 2016 cruise season kicked off Tuesday in Victoria. The city has set its sights on becoming a home port by 2020. (Cruise Ogden Point)

The 2016 cruise ship season is officially underway in Victoria, with the first ship coming and going from the city on Sunday. But the port authority is eager to have the ships stick around a little longer.

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority has set its sights on becoming a home port by 2020. 

"The economic benefit to Victoria and the region would be significant," said Ian Robertson, chief executive of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority. 

Currently, the city is a port of call where ships are berthed anywhere from five to 16 hours. But if it became a home port, like Vancouver or Seattle, the cruise ship would begin and end its journey there. 

The cruise ship industry is worth $100M annually to Victoria, according to the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority. (Greater Victoria Harbour Authority)

"Many passengers, in fact all of them, will come and spend three to four days at the beginning of their journey or three to four days at the conclusion of their journey. What they are doing is they are staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, taking in various activities," he said. 

He says the financial benefits could jump from $45,000 to over $1 million per ship. 

Victoria would be competing with Seattle and Vancouver for the Alaska cruise business, but Roberston believes there is enough business for all three. 

"Vancouver and Seattle are becoming extremely challenged with available berth space on the critical Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays," he said, "and that is where Victoria is wide open." 

James Bay residents in Victoria have raised concerns about the pollution and congestion that comes with cruise ship season. (Greater Victoria Harbour Authority)

Concerns over pollution

But James Bay residents have expressed concerns that a busy cruise ship translates to more traffic congestion and pollution from the ships. 

"Cruise lines have taken positive steps to install what is called a scrubber technology, which essentially works to scrub out all the ugly stuff that goes into the air," he said. 

Robertson admits there is still work to be done when it comes to buses that are used to transport passengers.

"We are introducing a double-decker, fully electric bus," he said, "that bus will be used in various shore excursions and shuttles."

With files from the CBC's On The Island. 


To hear the full story listen to the audio labelled: Victoria sets eyes on becoming a home port by 2020

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