Thunder Bay

Cruise ship won't call at Thunder Bay port this year, city says

There won't be any cruise ships plying the waters of Thunder Bay this year, but the city is hopeful that will change by 2020.

Tourism manager hopeful two ships will visit city in 2020

Thunder Bay's tourism manager says no cruise ships will be visiting the city this year. (Amy Hadley/CBC)

There won't be any cruise ships plying the waters of Thunder Bay this year, but the city is hopeful that will change by 2020.

Thunder Bay tourism manager Paul Pepe said the owner of the ship that was expected to visit the city this year, Victory Cruise Lines, was recently purchased by the American Queen Steamboat Company.

And American Queen has told the city it's suspending all of its Lake Superior cruises for a year.

"They wanted to go back to the drawing board on [their Lake Superior itineraries]," Pepe said. "Give them a bit more thought, and kind of develop them out for 2020."

Pepe said it was disappointing news, but the company has said they're interested in operating in Lake Superior in the future.

More vessels being built

"The challenge is Superior is a big lake, and I think for some of the cruise lines, the slower-moving ships have really have had a bit of trouble developing an itinerary that puts them in a port every day," Pepe said. "It's a bit of time to steam across the lake to Duluth or Thunder Bay or Houghton [Michigan]."

Compounding that, Pepe said, is the fact that there are relatively few cruise ships that can fit through the St. Lawrence Seaway and travel the Great Lakes.

"Right now there's something in the area of about 27 vessels that are on build sheets around the world that are designed to fit through the seaway," Pepe said. "That is the first round of builds of this magnitude that we've seen since the late 80s, early 90s."

Pepe said the city is anticipating two cruise ships visiting Thunder Bay in 2020.

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