Record year for cruise ship passengers to to Port Charlottetown, Marine Gateway to Prince Edward Island, in 2019

In what officials are calling a record-breaking year, cruise ships brought 128,000 passengers to P.E.I., an increase of 31 per cent over last year when just under 98,000 people visited.

And the passengers didn’t stay on the ships when they arrived, said Corryn Clemence, manager of cruise development and communications for Port Charlottetown.

“We have one of the highest debarkation rates in Atlantic Canada — about 93 per cent of all passengers get off the ship,” said Clemence. “Most of those people are doing tours, they’re out shopping and dining.”

The ships also brought 55,000 crew members to the Island.

“About 43 per cent of all crew get off in Charlottetown. So we know they’re going out there shopping, they might grab a bite to eat, those sorts of things,” Clemence said.

Port Charlottetown estimates the direct economic impact from cruises in 2019 is $21.7 million.

Number of factors

Eighty-seven ships came to the Island in 2019. During the six-month season, there were 62 days when at least one ship was in the harbour, said Clemence. “We had more calls, we had some big ships come in,” said Clemence. “We had a lot of multiple ship days back-to-back. So it was really just a combination of all great things.”

Port Charlottetown saw seven ships in two days this season and played host to the MSC Meraviglia, one of largest cruise ships in the world, which brought 4,500 passengers to the Island alone.

Eleven ships had to cancel because of poor weather this year, something Clemence said she thinks new berths could help out with next year.

“I think on a couple of days if we would have had that second berth available we may have not seen those cancellations because they wouldn’t have had to tender in rougher weather,” she said.

Clemence said it looks like next year is going to be even busier than 2019, the first ship of 2020 is scheduled to arrive on April 29 and the new berth is set to open in late spring.

(Travis Kingdon – CBC News, Port Charlottetown)