Victoria, British Columbia: A captivating destination

A wealth of attractions, coupled with a commitment to providing a seamless, environmentally friendly experience for cruise passengers, is attracting record numbers

Victoria, British Columbia: A captivating destination
Located on the southern tip of Vancouver island, Victoria BC is a popular and picturesque tourist destination

This article was first published in the Itinerary Planning Special Report. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

2018 proved to be a record year for cruising in Victoria, British Columbia (BC), Canada’s popular and picturesque destination located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Over 240 ship calls brought 630,000 passengers and 250,000 crew to the historic and vibrant city, which was recently ranked the world’s ‘Number 2 small city’ at the Condé Nast Readers’ Choice awards. 

The highlight of the season was the inaugural call of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Bliss on 1 June. The 324.6-metre-long Breakaway Plus-class vessel, which has capacity for over 4,200 passengers, is the largest cruise ship ever to dock at Ogden Point. The cruise ship terminal, located near the city’s bustling inner harbour, is known as Canada’s busiest cruise ship port of call. 

To prepare for Norwegian Bliss’s arrival, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) made infrastructure improvements to the bollards on Pier A, enabling the vessel to call weekly on her Alaskan itinerary. The fanfare that surrounded the ship’s arrival included an onboard appearance by Carol James, Victoria-Beacon Hill Member of the Legislative Assembly and BC Provincial Minister of Finance, who is responsible for creating the exemption of marine diesel fuel tax for cruise lines. 

Similarly, as part of local community engagement initiatives, GVHA’s director of cruise development Lindsay Gaunt welcomed class field trips from nearby James Bay Elementary School onboard Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess and Royal Caribbean International’s Explorer of the Seas. The students were treated to bridge tours on both ships, where captains and bridge crews showed them how cruise vessels are operated. These tours have been organised and executed in association with the Victoria Cruise Industry Alliance and Cruise Lines International Association North West & Canada.

GVHA is carrying out ongoing infrastructure improvements to accommodate all sizes of vessels. In late 2018, it bgean constructing a new dolphin pier extension at the end of Pier B ahead of the arrival of Royal Caribbean International’s Ovation of the Seas during the 2019 cruise season.

In addition, GVHA is working hard to reduce terminal congestion and improve air quality. In 2017, the first electric double-decker bus in North America was introduced on the shuttle route from Ogden Point to downtown Victoria. As a part of GVHA’s commitment to cruise tourism sustainability, the shuttle bus fleet is on track to be fully electric by 2022.  

Victoria boasts several world-famous attractions – such as ever popular shore experiences to the Butchart Gardens, Parliament Buildings and the Royal British Columbia Museum – and the so-called ‘Garden City’ also offers lesser-known getaways that keep variety and vibrancy alive for tourists. There are plentiful island sightseeing day trips, unique local eateries, whale watching tours, ocean vistas and quiet country nooks that keep people coming back for more. Economic value to the region is bolstered by over CAN$130 million in cruise-associated spending every year.

GVHA continually rises to meet cruise market demand by ensuring its cruise ship facilities are as environmentally friendly as possible and enabling efficient passenger throughput to make every call a seamless experience from ship to shore and back again. Alongside its engaged and dynamic local and international tourism partners, GVHA is proud to provide an easy and enjoyable gateway experience to one of the most captivating destinations in the world.

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Jacqui Griffiths
By Jacqui Griffiths
Monday, January 7, 2019