Record year for cruise at Port of Vancouver

Queen Elizabeth's maiden visit to Vancouver, BC. - May 21, 2019 (Photo by William Jans for Cunard)Banner season for Canada Place cruise terminal, welcoming an estimated record 1.25 million passengers and 332 ship visits, and recognized as North America’s best cruise terminal.

The final cruise ship of the 2023 season, Holland America Line’s Koningsdam, will depart from the Canada Place cruise terminal at the Port of Vancouver tomorrow (October 24th), marking the end of a robust year for the local cruise industry.

The Port of Vancouver is expected to have welcomed an estimated 1.25 million passengers in 2023, a new record and a 54% increase compared to 2022. This includes 15 of Canada Place’s 20 busiest days ever for cruise passengers, all occurring in the past six months. There were 332 cruise ship calls between April and October 2023, a new record for the Canada Place cruise terminal and an increase of 9% compared to 307 visits in 2022.

“Cruise returned to Vancouver emphatically this year after several seasons impacted by the global pandemic—with 2023 seeing record passenger numbers, near-record cruise ship visits and the Canada Place terminal getting further international recognition as a world-class cruise facility,” said Peter Xotta, vice president of operations and supply chain at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the federal agency mandated to enable Canada’s trade through the Port of Vancouver.

Cruise ship occupancy rates—which are a measure of how full each visiting ship is—averaged 95% for the season and peaked at an average of 96% over the summer, as occupancy rates returned to pre-pandemic levels. This year was the first full season without any COVID-19 related restrictions, following the gradual easing of federal travel restrictions in 2022.

“The cruise sector’s strong performance this year has been a critical catalyst for the local tourism and hospitality industries—supporting countless local jobs and businesses. I’d like to thank our partners, including Ceres Terminals Canada, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and cruise lines for their hard work in ensuring that this busy season—which included an incredible 15 of Canada Place’s 20 busiest days ever—went smoothly,”
said Xotta.

Holland America Line will join the port authority tomorrow, October 24, to celebrate the Koningsdam’s departure and mark the end of a successful cruise season.

“We are honoured to have been part of the Port of Vancouver’s biggest cruise season ever, with 25% of guests sailing on five Holland America Line ships,” said Beth Bodensteiner, chief commercial officer for Holland America Line. “We see this as further evidence that the cruise industry has rebounded in a remarkable way. We’re proud to call Vancouver a homeport and look forward to another great season in 2024.”

The Canada Place cruise terminal at the Port of Vancouver was recently recognized as North America’s Leading Cruise Port 2023 by World Travel Awards and North America’s Best Cruise Terminal in the World Cruise Awards.

“Indications based on preliminary bookings are that the 2024 cruise season will see a similar number of cruise ship visits, demonstrating the underlying strength and popularity of the cruise industry in Vancouver and its unique access to B.C.’s prestigious Inside Passage,” said Xotta.

The port authority continues to work alongside the broader port and cruise communities to achieve its goal for the Port of Vancouver to be the world’s most sustainable port and commends the cruise industry’s focus on shore power and environmental sustainability.

Highlights for 2023 cruise season

> The last cruise ship of the season, the Koningsdam, is scheduled to depart Canada Place on October 24, 2023
> This season’s first cruise ship at the Port of Vancouver was the Sapphire Princess
> Overall, the average cruise ship passenger occupancy rate for 2023 was 95%, compared to 69% in 2022. Pre-pandemic occupancy rates typically ranged between 93% and 99%, including 98% in 2019.
> In 2023, nearly 75% of cruise calls were shore power enabled, compared to 70% in 2022 and 50% in 2019. Demand for shore power has steadily increased since 2009, when the Port of Vancouver became the first port in Canada and the third in the world to introduce shore power for cruise. Shore power enables ships to shut down their diesel-powered auxiliary engines and plug into land-based electrical power. At the Port of Vancouver, this has helped reduce port-related greenhouse gas emissions by more than 38,000 tonnes since 2009.
> Six inaugural vessels docked at Canada Place in 2023, including the Norwegian Encore, Brilliance of the Seas, Silver Whisper, Hanseatic Nature, Fridtjof Nansen and Seabourn Venture

(Record year for cruise at Port of Vancouver – Port of Vancouver)