Nova Scotia

Sydney added to cruise itineraries due to restrictions in Gulf of St. Lawrence

The Port of Sydney will have at least five extra cruise ship visits this fall.

The Port of Sydney will have at least five extra cruise ship visits this fall

The cruise ship Silver Whisper docks at the Port of Sydney. (Port of Sydney)

In what has already been its busiest cruise ship season on record, the Port of Sydney, N.S., can look forward to some unexpected extra business this fall due to new regulations restricting ship speed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The restrictions were brought in recently to protect the endangered Atlantic right whale population. Federal scientists determined whales have suffered injuries, and in some cases, been killed when they were struck by large ocean-going vessels in the Gulf.

Nicole MacAulay, acting manager of marketing and administration for the Port of Sydney, said the speed restriction has forced some cruise lines to change their itinerary to cancel a stop in the restricted speed zone and go to Sydney instead.

"Because of our geographical positioning, we're completely outside that protected zone, so ships are looking to come here, away from the speed reduction area," she said.

Five unplanned visits

The changes mean five previously unscheduled cruise ship visits will happen this fall, said MacAulay, including:

  • Norwegian Dawn (Sept. 25 and Oct. 9)
  • Seven Seas Mariner  (Oct. 12 and Oct. 22)
  • Silver Whisper  (Oct. 18)

MacAulay said she won't be surprised if even more cruise ships change their itinerary to stop in Sydney. But even if they don't, 2017 will be a record year, with 89 ships having visited.

These new unscheduled visits will have a significant economic impact on the local economy, MacAulay said, noting that the Norwegian Dawn brings with it 2,300 passengers plus crew during one visit alone.

While Sydney will surely benefit from the additional business, Halifax is not in the same situation. A Port of Halifax spokesperson, Lane Farguson, said there has been no change to its 2017 cruise ship schedule.