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Prince Rupert gets a $3.5 million boost from the return of cruise tourism

Passenger volume was highest its been in more than a decade, Port Authority stated
Prince Rupert saw a 230 per cent increase in cruise passenger traffic between 2019 and 2022, attributed in part to the Ruby Princess, which docked in the city 13 times this season. Melissa Ash / The Northern View photo

After two years without any cruise ships in Prince Rupert due to the COVID-19 pandemic, cruise tourism returned bigger than before this season.

Between May 17 and Oct. 3, 42 cruise ships with more than 40,000 passengers stopped in the city, the Prince Rupert Port Authority announced.

This is fewer than what the Port Authority predicted in May, when they announced 60,600 passengers. However, it marks a 230 per cent increase in passenger volume compared to 2019, the last time cruise ships were allowed in Canada, when 12,435 passengers transitioned through the port.

“The 2022 cruise season was the ninth largest in Prince Rupert’s history and we are greatly encouraged by the strong return of the cruise tourism sector,” authority president Shaun Stevenson said, adding that it was also the busiest cruise season in more than a decade.

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Perhaps not surprisingly, the increase in people came with a big boost to the local economy, with cruise tourism bringing $3.5 million in direct consumer spending into the community in 2022, compared to $1.8 million in 2019. Part of the total includes $650,000 spent with local shore excursion providers.

This year’s traffic was bolstered by stops from the Ruby Princess, a cruise ship with a 3,000-passenger capacity. In total, it stopped 13 times. Ruby Princess is the first of the Princess Cruises’ fleet to stop at B.C.’s northwest port.

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“Going forward, Prince Rupert is uniquely positioned within the Alaska cruise theatre with immense potential for growth, particularly in regard to developing new opportunities for Indigenous-led tourism and eco-tourism in our region,” Stevenson said.

The strong rebound to cruise ships was excitedly welcomed by Tourism Prince Rupert after two challenging seasons.

“Cruise provides a significant opportunity to our local tourism operators to access a unique pool of international clients, and for our local businesses to benefit from an economic influx into our community,” said Ceilidh Marlow, executive director at Tourism Prince Rupert.

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