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Supporting Another Record-Breaking Cruise Year

Supporting Another Record-Breaking Cruise Year

Decades ago, a cruise ship may have had the capacity to carry approximately 1,000 passengers. However, since 1995, there has been a trend of cruise ships getting bigger, increasing in length by 27 per cent. Cruise ships now have the capacity to carry over 4,000 tourists and 2000 crew members.

This year alone, over one million cruise ship passengers are expected to  pass through the Port of Vancouver! That is 290 ships over a seven-month season. The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is also breaking records, as they expect for the first time to welcome more than 260 ships this season that will carry 700,000 passengers.

These record-breaking numbers are exceeded only by the unequaled size of some of the cruise ships coming in for their inaugural call. Examples include Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, Norwegian Joy, as  well as Carnival Cruise Lines Royal Princess which has presented the greatest challenges with an air draft (highest point of the ship) of 58 meters passing under the Lions Gate Bridge. Royal Caribbean International’s Ovation of the Seas is the largest cruise ship to ever enter the Port of Vancouver with a weight of 168,666 gross tonnes. The air draft of this ship and the others  requires that certain mitigation efforts are put in place so that it can be safely navigated through the harbour and under the Lions Gate Bridge.

In addition to tide and current limitations and Vessel Traffic Controls there are,

  • new navigational aids both ashore and on the bridge;
  • real-time air gap and tide / current monitors;
  • tug escorts.

The BC Coast Pilots (BCCP) play an essential role in the cruise tourism industry by ensuring that these mega ships are safely navigated in and out of our harbours.  Not only do our pilots help navigate the port waters, but for cruise ships that sail along our pristine B.C. coast-line, they are physically on-board for most of the journey. While on board, our pilots provide deep knowledge and expertise of the B.C. coastline to these large, often international cruise-liners as they journey along our coast, which can sometimes involve challenging waterways.

The BCCP has also participated in the further development of the cruise ship industry in Vancouver by helping to determine the maximum size of cruise ships able to safely enter the Vancouver Harbour. In collaboration with the Port of Vancouver, we have designed and constructed simulations to test the operations within the Movement Restricted Area under the Lions Gate Bridge.

B.C.’s tourism industry contributes approximately $9 million to the B.C. economy and relies on the untouched pristine beauty of our coastline. With each cruise ship stimulating close to $3 million in local economic activity, the tourism industry is dependent on the safe navigation of these mega-ships, but also any large ship moving people and goods through our waters.

The BCCP is proud to support another incredible cruise ship season by working closely with their captains to safely guide them through B.C.’s coastal waters. Our duty is to facilitate and support the tourism industry while protecting the marine environment that we call home.