At around eight a.m. on May 4, Holland America’s Zaandam made its way into Prince Rupert harbour to kick off a full day visit in the community.
Even before the ship could be seen volunteers were hard at work along the waterfront getting ready for the approximately 1,400 passengers that will be disembarking, putting up displays and balloons and readying the information booths for the ship. It’s the culmination of a community effort to improve the cruise experience for the passengers, including hundreds of volunteers who will be working as ambassadors, interpreters, buskers, performing in flash-mobs and making a Barkerville-like experience at North Pacific Cannery in Port Edward.
1st graders from Annunciation School lined the railing next to the dock and sang O’ Canada and waived flags as the passengers walked up the gangways to leave their ship, many of them stopped to take pictures of the children.
Flanked by two Mounties and dressed in his Robe and Chain of Office, Mayor Jack Mussallem welcomed passengers to the city as they left the cuise ship terminal. He and the RCMP officers also posed for pictures with the tourists.
The majority of the tourists who left the ship first thing in the morning were immediately scooped up by the excursion tour companies for a day of fun in the wild.
But as the morning went on plenty of passengers were checking out the booths at the small market set up next to the cruise terminal, before wandering off to explore the city.
The booths included examples of the local sea life in salt water tanks, a display of the history of Prince Rupert by the archives, local crafts, a performance by the North Coast Ceremonial Dancers and more.
The Prince Rupert Northern View talked to an Australian couple who said that the welcome to the city was “absolutely fantastic” and was the best welcome of any stop on their cruise so far.