Beginning with the arrival of the Balmoral on April 24 and ending with the Celebrity Mercury leaving on Oct. 15, the 2009 cruise season saw 37 cruise ships visiting Vancouver, making a total of 257 calls and bringing approximately 897,000 passengers to the city through the Canada Place and Ballantyne cruise terminals. This represents a 4.5 per cent increase from 2008, which runs contrary to the downturn experienced in other areas of the tourism industry, according to the Port Authority.

In contrast to 2009, Port Metro Vancouver is projecting a 30 per cent decline in cruise passenger volumes for 2010. Most of the decline can be attributed to ships leaving the Alaska market as a result of the unfavourable business and taxation climate in the market.

“We are confident that Vancouver continues to offer a world-class experience to cruise passengers and that will help us as we work to rebuild business lost during this challenging time,” said Robin Silvester, president and CEO of Port Metro Vancouver.

While the forecast for 2010 is not optimistic, Port Metro Vancouver will be welcoming a new player to the market in 2011, when Disney cruises begins sailing from Vancouver. Disney will offer 18 sailings from the port, bringing an additional 100,000 passengers to Vancouver.

A highlight of the 2009 season was the commissioning of cruise ship shore power at the Canada Place cruise terminal. This significant environmental initiative, which enables shore power-equipped ships to shut down their diesel engines and connect to the shore-based electrical grid while docked, is the first installation of this type in Canada, and only the third in the world. Fourteen connections were made this season, and next year, in its first full year of operation, 57 shore power equipped calls are planned, reducing greenhouse gas carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 3,000 tonnes.

Another significant development in 2009 was the opening of the new Canada Line rapid rail service to Vancouver International Airport. This further broadens the range of transportation options available to cruise passengers traveling to and from the Canada Place cruise terminal.

Port Metro Vancouver is Canada’s largest and North America’s most diversified port, trading $75 billion in goods with more than 130 trading economies annually. Each cruise ship that docks in Vancouver contributes approximately $2 million to the local economy.