Nanaimo's brand new cruise ship terminal seems to have met or exceeded all expectations Saturday.

The Nanaimo Port Authority's $24-million facility underwent a baptism by fire when the Norwegian Pearl docked carrying 2,400 passengers, one day after the terminal opened.

The dock was a breeze for the captain to manoeuvre in and out of and many of travellers who came ashore went downtown, creating excitement and setting cash registers ringing.

Not all passengers came ashore, and some of those who did took excursions, which they bought before disembarking.

Despite this, the downtown core was hopping with visitors, many of whom were vacationing from Los Angeles.

Of 2,451 passengers on board the Pearl, 1,981 came ashore, or 80%. Of the vessel's 1,074 crew members, 270, or 25% disembarked.

Before the dock was built, its design was run through its paces at a special industry testing facility in Florida.

Knowledge of Nanaimo's new facility had created a buzz within the industry and high expectations. It didn't disappoint.

"The captain was extremely pleased," said Doug Peterson, port authority spokesman. "He said the approach into it was exceptional and that it was basically a mariner's dream."

Once passengers came ashore they were loaded onto regional transit buses and taken on a five-point guided tour of the city.

The large cruise ship's arrival was a bonanza for some merchants. The Harbour Chandler did a brisk business in tourist wares.

People were lined up all the way out the door to get into the Dollar Store on Commercial Street.