The first ship of the next cruise season is scheduled to arrive in Prince Rupert on May 13 and the port authority is preparing a much more engaging and fun experience for passengers when they get here.
The hope is that this effort will help to attract a new cruise line to Prince Rupert in time for the start of the 2012 cruise season.
Phil Westoby is the cruise development coordinator for the Prince Rupert Port Authority. He says that the Port Authority and others with a stake in the cruise ship business are banding together so that all of the activities for cruise ship passengers will all be part of a larger organized effort to make Prince Rupert more appealing to cruise companies and their passengers.
There are quite a few different elements to the plan. This month the city’s director of recreation and community services, Rudy Kelly, put out a call for people willing to perform as buskers around town during the cruise season. Buskers are just one part of the plan; another is to make activities more accessible from the waterfront.
“We are creating a clustering of activities along the waterfront with an ability to provide the cruise ship guests with greater knowledge of the experiences that can be had in Prince Rupert and with an ability to further engage the community so they can get out into the local neighborhoods, take on the regional trails and be able to explore on their own,” says Westoby.
Westoby says that not all of the other initiatives have the exact details worked out at this point, but they’re looking at some form of engagement with passengers while still on their ship. There’s consideration of creating an exploration guide, and an increase in shore-excursions that will be easier for passengers to take in during their short time in the city.
“A big selling point for any destination, both in terms of revenue and experience, is a shore excursion program. We have been told time and again that we have a good shore excursion program, maybe not in terms of volume, but in the quality of the products,” says Westoby.
Westoby says that he thinks that with their plan, he is confident the city will be able to attract a new cruise line to its harbour in the years ahead.
“Not only does this provide a better cruise guest experience going out of the 2011 season, but it also demonstrates to the cruise lines that regardless of the announcements [of the cruise ships stopping] we have a long term plan and vision, and we’re dedicated to providing consistently better services for cruise guests when they arrive in Prince Rupert,” says Westoby.
He says that representatives from the port authority are going to be attending two major cruise industry conventions this fall where they will be pitching Prince Rupert as a potential cruise destination for companies operating in the Alaska area.