Nova Scotia

Halifax bustling with cruise ship visitors as 4 ships dock

More than 10,000 cruise ship passengers descended on the Halifax area Friday, on the busiest day of the cruise season.

Four ships arrived Friday morning, each carrying between 2,000 and 3,600 passengers, plus crew

Cruise ship passengers line up to board buses on the Halifax waterfront. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

More than 10,000 cruise ship passengers descended on the Halifax region Friday on the busiest day of the cruise season. 

Four ships arrived Friday morning, each carrying between 2,000 and 3,600 passengers, plus crew. And for some, this is not the first time in Halifax.

"I just love the area, and I had an opportunity," said Donna Veneziano of Connecticut, who was in Halifax several years ago on a different cruise. Veneziano said she planned to go to Peggys Cove. 

"Peggys Cove is beautiful. I was there once, and it looks like a picturesque movie set to me. It's just so pretty it doesn't seem real," she said.  

Thousands of other passengers disembarking in Halifax also converged on Peggys Cove. 

"An anthill, the best way to describe it," said Emerson MacDonald, who drives customers on pre-arranged car tours at least three times a week during cruise season. "It's going to be a very big anthill." 

MacDonald calls this year's business "beautiful." 

"Best year I've had in a number of years," he said. "More cruise ships — the Canadian dollar, of course, makes it more lucrative for the American market to come up here." 

Economic impact

The bus company Ambassatours, which handles the majority of the tour business, said it has at least 60 buses on the road today, including 15 double-deckers. 

A spokesman for the Halifax Port Authority said it completed an updated economic impact study on cruise ships in February. 

"We were fairly surprised to see how much that impact associated with the cruises had grown," said Lane Farguson, a communications advisor with the port. 

"What we initially thought is that cruises were worth about $50 million in economic benefits. The updated study took a look at the passenger spend portion as well as the provisioning that takes place while those vessels are in port.

"And those two numbers combined gave us a new figure of over $104 million of economic benefit for the Halifax area."  

Farguson said that number includes spin-offs as businesses hire extra staff for the season, as well as direct spending from passengers and the cost of provisioning ships with goods such as Nova Scotia seafood. 

Farguson said the cost of investing in infrastructure to receive cruise ships is recouped through fees such as a $10.50 per person cruise passenger tariff. 

"We do see revenue generated by the cruise ships through tariff and wharfage fees, and those kinds of things, and that money is reinvested back into infrastructure," he said. 

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