How Vancouver provides sustainable satisfaction

Vancouver is the main homeport for ships sailing Alaskan cruises and the port authority continues to invest in a great guest experience and environmental protection

How Vancouver provides sustainable satisfaction
The Canada Place cruise terminal was the first to offer shore power for cruise ships in Canada (Image: Vancouver Fraser Port Authority)

Situated on the Pacific Northwest coast the city of Vancouver in British Columbia is home to Canada’s largest and most diversified port. For more than 30 years, the Port of Vancouver has been a leading homeport for Alaska cruises and is the only port to offer both one-way and roundtrip itineraries through Canada’s Inside Passage to Alaska. That’s one of the many reasons why Vancouver attracts a wide spectrum of cruise lines and passengers from around the world.

Canada Place cruise terminal is experiencing robust growth as demand for cruises to Alaska continues to increase. More than one million passengers are expected to have visited Vancouver by the end of 2019, arriving on 40 different vessels from 19 cruise lines during a total of 209 calls. This represents a 21% increase in passengers compared to the 2018 season. Vancouver consistently achieves high passenger satisfaction scores and was recently named as a top US and Canada destination in Cruise Critic’s Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards.

Vancouver’s cruise industry continues to be a key contributor to the local economy, stimulating nearly CAN$3 million (US$2.3 million) in direct economic activity for each vessel that calls at Canada Place. The cruise industry brings a total CAN$1.6 billion (US$1.2 billion) in economic impact, generating CAN$840 million (US$641 million) in GDP and supporting 12,000 jobs.

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the federal entity mandated to facilitate trade and protect the environment at the Port of Vancouver, continues to work with industry, destination and government partners to anticipate, plan for and accommodate future demand for ships of various sizes that will visit Vancouver. Current short-, medium- and long-term efforts are focused on optimising the world-class Canada Place cruise facility.

Since 2014, the port authority has invested approximately CAN$25 million (US$19 million) on several initiatives to improve the passenger flow and overall guest experience at the Canada Place cruise terminal. These include an enhanced wayfinding and signage programme, the reconfiguration of terminal space to expand passenger processing areas, a redesigned ground transportation area that enables better vehicle and pedestrian flows and free wi-fi. Upgrades to gangways, camels and fendering systems for every berth will be completed by 2020. New technologies for passenger processing are also being explored.

Environmental protection is part of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s legislated federal mandate, and tremendous efforts have been dedicated to growing the port sustainably and responsibly for all sectors. The cruise industry plays a key role in advancing collaborative initiatives that incentivise port customers to reduce the impact of operations on the environment.

In 2009, Canada Place became the first terminal in Canada and third in the world to offer shore power for cruise ships, offering incentives to operators such as discounts on harbour dues for shore power-enabled vessels. Since shore power was installed in 2009, greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 20,750 metric tonnes as a result of vessels using hydroelectric power instead of diesel engines while at berth. At an average of 2075 metric tonnes per year, this is equivalent to removing approximately 440 cars off the road per year. During the 2019 season, nearly 50% of all ships calling at the port will be shore power capable, marking an all-time record.

The port authority is also leading the Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program, which is a collaborative regional initiative aimed at better understanding and managing the cumulative effects of shipping activity on at-risk whales, such as the iconic southern resident killer whales, along the southern coast of British Columbia.

Meanwhile, the port authority’s EcoAction Program recognises cruise lines who use a variety of fuel, technology and environmental management options. One is underwater noise-limiting technology, which operators can adopt to qualify their vessels for discounted harbour dues rates. To recognise marine carriers that excel in environmental stewardship and attain the highest participation rates in the EcoAction Program, the port authority launched the Blue Circle Awards, now in their 10th year.

As the Canada Place cruise terminal continues to achieve record-breaking growth, the Port of Vancouver is well-positioned to accommodate increasing traffic as the homeport of the Vancouver-Alaska cruise. The continued participation of the cruise industry is contributing to the port authority’s efforts to manage this record growth in a sustainable manner.

This article was first published in the 2019 issue of Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

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Alex Smith
By Alex Smith
25 February 2020

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