The Port of Prince Rupert is projecting a modest growth year in cruise ship visits and passengers in 2008. However, it will be the focus on improving guest experiences by offering more tourist-friendly services in Prince Rupert, as well as more diverse world-class shore excursions, which will highlight the 2008 cruise season.

The port city will welcome 65 large cruise ships and 103,000 passengers, compared to 60 ships and 100,000 in 2007 and 32 ships and 62,845 passengers in 2006, continuing its steady growth since the opening of the Northland Cruise Terminal in 2004.

In addition, Celebrity Cruise Lines is increasing its calls on Prince Rupert from two visits to five with the Mercury and Infinity, Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas will be making port calls with sister ship Rhapsody of the Seas, and Norwegian Cruise Lines is extending Norwegian Star's visit each Thursday to six hours to increase shore excursion opportunities for their guests. The 2008 cruise season will begin with the arrival of the 2,240-passenger Norwegian Star on May 1 and end with the 1,950-passenger Infinity on September 22.

This year's cruise visitors will benefit from a number of city enhancements to make their stay more satisfying. The City of Prince Rupert is investing $90,000 in beautification projects along the waterfront surrounding the cruise terminal. In addition, the Prince Rupert Port Authority is partnering with the City of Prince Rupert, Prince Rupert Economic Development Corporation and Tourism Prince Rupert to implement a way-finding program that will enhance cruise visitors' experience in and around the city when they begin arriving this year.

"The way finding program is part of our continuing efforts to help make our guests feel at home in Prince Rupert," explains Tourism Prince Rupert Executive Director Bruce Wishart. "We'll offer user-friendly brochures and associated directional signage, so that they can easily move about the city and find the shopping and attractions in which they are interested.  Heritage signs will encourage people to linger in the shopping and cultural areas of the city, and at the same time learn more about our history and culture."

The Port of Prince Rupert also has been focusing its energies on the shore excursion program -  to give cruise guests more diverse and value-added shore excursion experiences that capitalize on 'where Canada's wilderness begins' strengths: world-class wildlife viewing; stunning scenery; and 10,000 years of unique First Nations culture.

Other cruise to Prince Rupert highlights for 2008 include:

· Number of unique shore excursions increased to 28 tours;
· Expanded tour capacity of the increasingly popular Khuzemateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, a one-of-its kind protected area, home to 40-60 grizzlies and a myriad of other land and sea mammals and birds, that tour operators say visitors can get so 'up close and personal' they can hear the grizzlies munching on grass;
· Jet boat tour and nature walk along the Skeena River, a spectacular ocean estuary surrounded by towering snow-capped mountains and teeming with wildlife, also known as the "River of Mists" and an ancient Indian trade route.