Saguenay showed off its world class new cruise terminal during the Canada New England Cruise Symposium June 17 and 18. Nine cruise ports on the St. Lawrence River are making a big push to attract more cruise traffic in addition to ports in Atlantic Canada and New England from New York to Boston and Maine.

Ben Atherly, director of tour operations at Holland America Line, commented that the Canada/New England ports generate the highest passenger satisfaction ratings of all the ports the cruise line calls at, and Quebec generated the single highest satisfaction rating of any port.

Atherly pointed out the St. Lawrence region’s many attractions, including its nature and French culture, which he described as compelling. He said there is a direct relationship with the number of people taking tours and ports’ satisfaction scores.

Chris Allen, director of deployment and itinerary planning for Royal Caribbean International, and Neil Palomba, COO at MSC Cruises, were also favorably impressed. Allen said that Royal Caribbean’s capacity to the region will be up 35 percent in 2010 with ships from Royal and Celebrity making some 241 calls in the Canada/New England. Allen said the region is also suitable for smaller ships such as Azamara Cruises. “I will be taking a hard look at opportunities for 2011,” he added, “to see what other creative things we can do (on the St. Lawrence).”

MSC will sail the Magnifica on 10-day cruises in 2010, as well as two seven-day cruises between New York and Quebec. These cruises are designed both for North American and European passengers, according to Palomba.

Presenters at the symposium also included the ports of New York, Boston, Maine, Cruise Atlantic Canada and Cruise the St. Lawrence.

The first day of the symposium featured a workshop whereby cruise line executives were offered networking session with the participating ports.

The second day’s program included discussions of shore excursion needs and port operations.

The Port of Saguenay hosted guests with dinners and entertainment, including a performance of La Fabuleuse and a breathtaking fjord cruise.

An in-depth report on the symposium will follow here and in the Cruise Industry News newsletter and quarterly magazine.