Cruise ship terminal nearly operational
A fully operational terminal will greet tourists disembarking from Nanaimo’s first cruise ship visiting this May.
“Construction at the terminal is going fast and furious,” said Bernie Dumas, president and CEO of the Nanaimo Port Authority. “We’re getting down to the wire.”
The floating dock will be complete by the end of March. However, delays of glass shipments for the welcome centre and customs building means it will be finished mid-April. The port authority expects to host an official opening reception in early May.
“It’s an exciting time,” said Dumas.
The original construction estimate of $22 million increased to $24 million.
Dumas said the Port Authority decided to include its office space above the welcome centre, pushing the building to about 13,000 square feet.
Additional construction costs were covered by the Nanaimo Port Authority, raising its initial contribution of $5 million to $7 million. The federal government contributed $8.5 million, Island Coastal Economic Trust $3.5 million and the province contributed $5 million.
Dumas said the cruise ship terminal is expected to start tuning a profit after five years, a timeline that includes the construction phase. The port needs about 25-30 large vessels visits a year to make that target.
Cruise outlooks are starting to improve with a number of companies returning to the Alaskan route after pulling out during the recession, said Dumas.
“We are in a good position to scoop that up,” he said. “It’s very important for the community. It has a lot of economic potential for the community.”
The Norwegian Pearl arrives May 7 and will be the first to dock at the completed facility. Passengers will be greeted by the Downtown Ambassadors.
Cory Hostetter, general manager of Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association, which runs the ambassador program, said the organization is excited to see the terminal finished.
It is working on a number of downtown experiences for cruise ship passengers.
On the Norwegian Pearl’s visit, BookFest is being held at the Diana Krall Plaza. Hostetter said events like this help add to the passengers' experience in the city.