Manitoba

Next stop, Churchill; cruise ship to make summer visits

Grain ships normally enter Churchill, but late last month the port played host to a cruise ship, leading an Arctic cruise line to forge plans to make the Manitoba town a regular summer stop.

Grain ships normally enter Churchill, but late last month the port played host to a cruise ship, leading an Arctic cruise line to forge plans to make the Manitoba town a regular summer stop.

The visiting cruise ship came from Cruise North Expeditions, a non-profit group owned by the Inuit of northern Quebec. The two-year-old operation is based in the northern Quebec community of Kuujjuaq.

Its routes take adventurous tourists to places such as Resolute, Iqaluit and the Hudson Strait.And in late July, a Cruise North vessel made its first visit to Churchill.

"We went out with our Zodiac boats to visit the old fort, Prince of Wales, and we happened on a group of archeologists there actually working away," said company manager Dugald Wyles.

"They were able to give us an impromptu sort of history of the place, all of which was pretty special. And as we came back to the ship on our Zodiac boat, we must have had about 50 or 60 beluga whales all around the boat, and really breaching right beside us. It was a pretty special experience."

Wyles says it made sense to add the northern Manitoba port to its itinerary.

"It's a good place to pick up fuel and supplies in mid-season," Wyles said Monday. "But ... it was an interesting place we'd heard a lot about, and our passengers are always looking for new things."

Wyles says he's already making plans to bring tourists back to Churchill next year, andexpects the Churchill route to help attract more European customers in future years.

Wyles estimated the one-night cruise ship stop in Churchill could pump more than $300,000 into the town's economy.

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