Ocean cruise line companies charting courses to new markets could mean more cruise ship visits for Nanaimo.
Even with a new multimillion dollar cruise ship dock and and terminal in Nanaimo Harbour, the number of cruise ship visits scheduled for Nanaimo this summer remain in the single digits with just two pocket cruise ships from National Geographic stopping by in May and only four visits scheduled by ships from Celebrity Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line scheduled for all of May and three stops in September.
The National Geographic pocket cruise ship Sea Bird spent several hours tied up in Nanaimo Harbour Thursday before moving on to Haida Gwaii and Alaska. It’s sister ship Sea Lion stopped over earlier in the week.
Nine visits is a reduction from the 20-25 visits targeted by the Nanaimo Port Authority for the summer of 2015, but Bernie Dumas, Nanaimo Port Authority president and CEO, said shifting markets in the cruise line business worldwide could help meet that goal.
Dumas said cruise lines that have faced difficulties operating in Mexico are redeploying their ships to other markets.
“A new focus is going towards Asia, which is a good thing for us because if they do an Asia season, those ships have to be deployed again after that season,” Dumas said.
Short duration Pacific Northwest cruise packages could prove lucrative for carriers and communities they visit. Shorter duration cruises mean higher passenger turnover and better returns.
“If you go to Miami or Fort Lauderdale, you can do a lot of these two-, three-, four-day cruises and they’re getting a better return, of course – they’re getting more people on and off,” Dumas said.
Short duration, Pacific Northwest cruises could start in 2015 and could leave from Seattle, Wash., with stops in B.C. before going down to places like Astoria, Ore., and other U.S. stops.
Other carriers that have moved away from B.C./Alaska cruises are considering reviving those which could also mean more summertime cruise ship visits for Nanaimo.
“Each of these carriers have about five, six or seven ships in their pool and each of these ships do about 20 calls through the season,” Dumas said. “If we get one dedicated ship to call on us in that rotation we can get our volume quite easily and then these repositioning ships which are in the spring and the fall.”