Prioritising passenger safety at the Port of Vancouver

The Port of Vancouver is working to ensure the safety of its passengers, while using innovative technologies to plan for its long-term future growth

Prioritising passenger safety at the Port of Vancouver
The Port of Vancouver offers both one-way and roundtrip itineraries through Canada’s Inside Passage to Alaska

During what continues to be an unprecedented time for the cruise industry around the globe, passenger safety and future growth remain the focus at the Port of Vancouver, which is managed by Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.   

Situated on the Pacific Northwest coast of North America, Vancouver is home to Canada’s largest port. For more than 35 years, Vancouver has been a leading homeport for Alaskan cruises and is the only homeport to offer both one-way and roundtrip itineraries through Canada’s Inside Passage to Alaska.  

Canada Place, located in downtown Vancouver, is an internationally recognised landmark and multi-purpose venue for world-class events. The port authority owns and operates Canada Place, which houses a convention centre, hotel, theatre, a multi-level car park and an office tower. It is also home to the largest cruise terminal in Canada. 

The safety of passengers and guests who visit Canada Place remains the port authority’s top priority. It continues to follow the direction of the Canadian government regarding travel and cruise-related restrictions as a result of Covid-19. The port authority is also working with the cruise industry, cruise lines, the cruise terminal operator, other ports and the government to ensure strict safety protocols are in place to be ready for the safe restart of cruise operations.  

The recently created Association of Canadian Port Authorities Cruise Committee – comprised of cruise ports across Canada – is currently developing consistent safety protocols for the resumption of cruising across Canada. Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is co-chairing with the Future Borders Coalition Maritime Task Force, which includes industry stakeholders, government and health agencies, working together to develop programmes to reduce health risks on cruise lines and airlines, and to meet the public health agency standards of both Canada and the USA. 

The port authority also continues work to anticipate, plan for and accommodate long-term future growth. 

Prior to the implementation of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions on cruise operations, Canada Place cruise terminal experienced robust growth as demand for cruises to Alaska continued to increase. Since 2018, the port authority has taken measures to increase capacity at the terminal by optimising the existing footprint and improving operational efficiencies and the guest experience. In 2019, the port received 1.1 million cruise passengers. Based on this, it had planned for an additional four to six per cent increase in 2020, before the onset of the pandemic. 

To help inform and sequence appropriate changes to the cruise terminal and operations, the port authority developed a 3D in-house simulation model using advanced analytics and visualisation technology that simulates the behaviour of passengers during regular and peak cruise days. Recent examples of data-informed changes include the installation of additional automated passport control with biometrics, the installation of 40 new check-in counters, adjustments to staffing levels on regular and peak days, the creation of an additional embarkation level from an existing car park, and a redesigned ground transportation area to enable increased vehicle and pedestrian flows. Most recently, the in-house simulation model has been used to factor physical distancing rules and queue management into the passenger experience in the cruise terminal.  

Since its implementation, the in-house simulation model has garnered international awards and recognition and continues to inform the port authority’s ongoing efforts to accommodate growth, while improving services for cruise terminal guests. 

The port authority is also developing medium- and long-term plans to address anticipated demand for various ship sizes that will visit Vancouver in future. The Canada Place cruise terminal can already service the largest ships visiting Alaska and, to date, has accommodated cruise ships of all sizes.  

The port authority is committed to the success of cruising and will continue working with the cruise and tourism industries to support their recovery and its own growth opportunities in Vancouver.

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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Elly Yates-Roberts
By Elly Yates-Roberts
07 May 2021

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