The first ship of the 2014 cruise season will call in Montréal on May 17. Holland America’s Maasdam will arrive from Fort Lauderdale at 8 a.m. with over 1,266 passengers. The ship has been chartered by Olivia Travel, an agency specializing in vacations for the lesbian community.

The Maasdam will be calling a total of 12 times during the seaon.

"Cruises are at the heart of our strategic planning for the coming years. We have ambitious objectives for this high-potential market, and we are working together with members of the Montréal Cruise Committee to attain them,” commented Yves Lalumière, president and CEO of Tourisme Montréal. “We not only want to attract cruise travelers to the city, but we would also like to make Montrealers more aware of this unique way to tour and discover the St. Lawrence River."

In 2014, three ships will be calling in Montréal for the first time: the new Pearl Mist, the Hamburg, and the Seabourn Quest. A fourth ship, the Europa, will be back in the city after only one previous stopover in 2004.

The cruise season to Montréal on the St. Lawrence River runs from May to November and peaks in September and October, with travelers attracted by the fall colors.

Last year, the Port of Montréal welcomed 47 cruise ships and a record 55,611 passengers. Including crew, nearly 70,000 people embarked or disembarked in Montréal, 70% of whom were international tourists. Between 2012 and 2013, the number of cruise passengers increased by 47%. The port said that these numbers are the result, in particular, of the work of the Montréal Cruise Committee, a group created in 2011.

"I would like to commend the excellent work of the Montréal Cruise Committee, whose efforts are yielding positive results. I anticipate with great enthusiasm the 2014 cruise season, which looks to be very promising,” added Sylvie Vachon, president and CEO of the Port of Montréal.

Supported by Tourisme Québec, the Montréal Cruise Committee comprises the Montréal Port Authority and Tourisme Montréal, as well as six other local associations and organizations: Aéroports de Montréal (Montréal airports), the Old Port of Montréal Corporation, the Montréal Casino, the Old Montréal Business Development Corporation, the Hotel Association of Greater Montréal and the City of Montréal.