Like spring itself, Québec City's international cruise ship season began earlier than usual this year with the arrival of the Costa Atlantica. The ship will be in port until Sunday, April 25 at 5 p.m.
The Costa Atlantica out of Fort Lauderdale sailed into the Port of Québec this morning. Captain Francesco Schettino received a sculpture of a bird by artist Marc Martel as a gift from the Québec Port Authority. This QPA tradition congratulates the captain of the first cruise ship to arrive in the port in spring. Like the return of the snow geese, the arrival of cruise ships is a sign of the season. It is the second time since 1998 that the QPA has welcomed a cruise ship as early as April.
The Québec Port Authority is expecting another bumper year. "The 2010 cruise ship season will be a year of firsts, such as the inaugural visit of Italy's MSC Cruises with its MSC Poesia," said Ross Gaudreault, president and CEO of the Port of Québec. In all, over 100,000 passengers and 35,000 crew will visit the Old Capital in the coming months. A record number of passengers—55,000—have chosen to begin or end their cruise in Québec City. "More than ever, people from the area and the province have various choices of interesting itineraries to start from here. A variety of packages are available from Québec City to Boston, New York City, and even Fort Lauderdale," added Gaudreault. Five different cruise lines offer 22 departures or arrivals in Quebec City: Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises.
Among the highlights of 2010 will be the return to Québec City of the Cunard Line's imposing Queen Mary II on September 9, the inaugural arrival of six ships including the Celebrity Summit (1,950 passengers), the AidaLuna (2,500 passengers), and the Arcadia (2,556 passengers), and the arrival of the 600,000th passenger in Québec City since the cruise terminal inauguration in 2002.
The Costa Atlantica will depart for La Baie on Monday, April 26, before continuing its journey toward New York City. After the summer season in Europe, it will return to Québec City on October 1, where it will wind up the 2010 season on October 25.
Gabriel Savard, Quebec City Tourism General Manager, is especially proud to be associated with the development of international cruises through targeted marketing efforts. Quebec City is a true tourist friendly destination with an authentic experience for passengers who will choose to embark or disembark in Quebec City as 11 turnaround operations are planned in 2010.
The Québec Port Authority is an independent federal agency created under the Canada Marine Act. The Port of Québec is one of Canada's main ports. Its principal activities include bulk goods transhipment, cruise ships, and a host of recreational and urban activities.