New cruise terminal earns rave reviews from first visitors

Passengers from the Norwegian Pearl stream out of the Welcome Centre Saturday at the newly completed cruise ship terminal. - RACHEL STERN The News Bulletin
Passengers from the Norwegian Pearl stream out of the Welcome Centre Saturday at the newly completed cruise ship terminal.
— image credit: RACHEL STERN The News Bulletin

The first cruise ship passengers to set foot in the new $24-million cruise terminal streamed off the Norwegian Pearl Saturday, and they liked what they saw.

Visitors like Andre Bruce, from Wisconsin, found the building open and inviting.

“It is very welcoming, very friendly,” he said. “It’s a lot nicer than a lot of the ones I’ve seen.”

Tabitha Sellmer, a passenger from Florida, was also impressed with the building’s construction.

“It’s very nice. It’s very modern or deco. It’s open and with all the windows you see the ocean,” she said.

For Bernie Dumas, CEO of the Nanaimo Port Authority, it was an exciting time. On Friday he officially declared the terminal open and celebrated years of work by the Port and its partners during a special gathering.

“It’s quite an accomplishment,” he said.

The terminal will welcome four large cruise ships this season, with an estimated 8,500 passengers onboard. The economic impact of the visiting vessels is expected to be $170,000 to $200,000 per cruise ship visit.

Dumas said the NPA hopes to attract about 25 to 30 vessels a year within the next five years.

Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan said now that the infrastructure of the terminal is in place, the Port Authority can begin to build on attracting the cruise industry, which will have a positive impact on Nanaimo.

James Lunney, Conservative MP for Nanaimo-Alberni, also stressed the positive economic impacts. He said it would help promote tourism throughout the central Island and congratulated Port for having the vision to build the facility.

“Such economic stewardship has greatly enhanced the city and everyone in it,” he said. “The opportunities are only limited by our vision.”

The cruise ship terminal cost $24 million to construct, and was funded by various partners: the federal government contributed $8.5 million through the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, the province contributed $5 million, $3.5 million came from the Island Coastal Economic Trust and $7 million from the Nanaimo Port Authority.

The 106-metre floating dock is capable of berthing 1,050-foot vessels and the 13,774-square-foot Welcome Centre holds space for the Canadian Border Service Agency’s offices and customs clearance. The Port Authority will also relocate its administrative offices into the building this summer.

Construction of the terminal is estimated to have created approximately 170,000 man hours of employment.


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