A $3.5 million grant has put British Columbia’s Port of Nanaimo a step closer to building a cruise terminal, said port officials.

The island port of Nanaimo, located west of Vancouver and north of Victoria, plans to couple the $3.5 million grant from Island Coastal Economic Trust with another $5 million grant from the provincial government to partially fund an $18.5 million cruise terminal. The last obstacle to overcome is securing a $5 million grant from the Canadian federal government, said Doug Peterson, the port’s manager of marketing and sales.

Currently a tender-only port, Nanaimo hopes to have a finger pier able to handle 320-meter ships open for business in summer 2010. The port hopes to attract up to 40 cruise calls with the new terminal, officials have said.

The port received eight calls from cruise ships in 2008, resulting in more than 17,000 passengers, Peterson said. The port predicts 10 ships next year. Shore excursions from the port include wine tours at nearby vineyards, American Indian arts, old-growth forest tours, an antique steam train tour and flightseeing over the gulf islands, Peterson said.

Alaska cruises range from three-night/four-day to 24-night/25-day, and start from $1,149 per person.  For additional information on Cruise West Alaska itineraries or to book a cruise visit www.cruisewest.com or call 1-800-296-8307.