In its 13-year history, the annual Cruise Canada New England Symposium, which takes place in New York, June 14 - 16, has reached a new level with six cruise line presidents attending, said Tom Spina, director of cruise for the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
“All our participating port directors will have opportunities for one-on-one meetings with executives, and also hear it right from the top how the ECA will affect the region. And we have this unique opportunity, because we have not let the symposium grow too big.”
Speaking for the Cruise the Saint Lawrence Association, Executive Director Rene Trepanier, added: “It is a good sign that we are attracting high caliber executives. Our objective is to build more cruise business in the summer. We have a very good summer product and we need to convey that to the cruise lines. And the ships are coming, slowly but steadily.
“The symposium is one of the best means of talking directly to the lines. At the larger events, we compete with everyone, but not here,” Trepanier continued. Next year, Quebec City will host the symposium
“The group is working to increase Canada New England itineraries,” added Mike Leone, port director for the Massachusetts Port Authority in Boston. “We are working together as a team to get more spring and summer business into the region.”
According to Betty MacMillan, director of business development for the Port of Saint John in New Brunswick, which hosted last year’s symposium, “it is a great opportunity to get together in a forum with the cruise line executives to talk about our future. Our mandate is to increase summer traffic.
“It really helps that Disney Cruise Line starts calling next summer (2012), in addition to Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line and Holland America.” Saint John is also working on a berth extension in order to accommodate Disney.
New callers on the Saint Lawrence this year will be Oceania, which will turn around in Montreal, Ponant’s Boreal and the Regent Seven Seas Navigator. While 2011 ship and passenger counts are expected to be in the range of last year, 2012 is expected to be a “really good year,” according to Trepanier. By that time, most of the infrastructure in the new ports will also be ready, including shore excursions. A five-year plan has some $150 million being invested in six new ports, with one third of the funds coming from local stakeholders. Launched in 2008, the plan is now two-thirds accomplished and on track, according to Trepanier.
“All of our nine ports will have cruise calls in 2012,” Trepanier added. “We are working closely with our most important cruise line partners, and we are focusing on the cruise lines that come here or are likely to come.
“It takes time to build up a product,” he continued, “and Holland America understands this. They have built up their Canada New England cruises over time and now have a very profitable product here.”
The Cruise the Saint Lawrence Association is also promoting roundtrip cruises from Quebec and Montreal, which, Trepanier said, will start in 2012, using the French islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon To satisfy Canadian cabotage regulations.
In New York, shorepower will be offered to cruise ships at the Brooklyn Terminal starting in June 2012. Cunard and Princess ships are expected to plug in.
“We are breaking new ground,” said Spina. “It has taken us longer than anticipated as we had to build the infrastructure from the ground up. You also have to realize there are no ships yet on the East Coast that have shorepower capability.” He went on to describe the project as a significant investment, and said that the port will subsidize the cost of the electric power. “We have done our part, now the lines must do theirs. (Hooking up) will be a huge savings (compared to burning fuel).”
Carnival will benefit from a fixed and discounted electricity rate for a period of five years, valued at $2 million per year.
The onshore installation cost is estimated at $15 million and cost to the cruise lines about $2 million for each ship.
Shorepower will also allow what the city calls the elimination of nearly 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide, 95 tons of nitrous oxide and 6.5 tons of particulate matter annually.
While New York has gained the Disney Wonder next summer, it lost the Caribbean program of the Grand Princess as she will head to Europe. The port, however, is building European traffic with more calls by AIDA and MSC, according to Spina. He noted the three-day turn-arounds of the AIDA ships, allowing passengers to spend more time in New York City.
Boston is studying the feasibility of shorepower for cruise ships and is already offering it to fishing vessels. New next year will be calls on four- and five-day cruises by Carnival out of New York.
Meanwhile, work continues to creating more destination awareness. Said MacMillan: “We want to help the cruise lines by elevating destination awareness.”