Montreal welcomes record number of passengers in 2013

The cruise business continues to grow at the Port of Montreal, which welcomed a record 55,611 passengers over the course of 47 calls in 2013.

The Montreal Cruise Committee succeeded in its efforts to attract more cruise passengers to Montreal while encouraging them to spend extra time in the city before or after their cruise. “The cruise industry brings some $14 million to the local economy annually,” said Nathalie Gaudet, project manager for the Montreal Cruise Committee.

Supported by Tourism Quebec, the Montreal Cruise Committee is an initiative in which the Montreal Port Authority (MPA) and Tourism Montreal have teamed up with the City of Montreal and five local associations and organizations – Aéroports de Montréal (Montreal airports), the Hotel Association of Greater Montreal, Montreal Casino, the Old Montreal Business Development Corporation and the Old Port of Montreal – to promote Montreal as a cruise destination of choice. Among the projects it has undertaken is the creation of a microsite – – dedicated to providing key information to the cruise and travel trade industries.

Tourism Montreal has also produced a series of videos that showcase Montreal to cruise enthusiasts and travel agents. The videos are available on Tourism Montreal’s YouTube account and on the microsite.

In addition to welcoming an increasing number of passengers, the port is preparing itself to welcome larger cruise vessels following an announcement by Hydro-Québec last fall that it will raise two power lines above the St. Lawrence River. The decision means that cruise ships carrying up to 3,000 passengers will soon be able to reach Montreal. The largest cruise vessels currently sailing to the port can accommodate up to 2,500 passengers.

Following a request from the MPA, Hydro-Québec will tighten power cables in late 2014 at Trois-Rivières and Boucherville, located downstream from Montreal, providing a clearance of 52 metres under the wires for vessels sailing to the port.

The power lines are lower in height than the Laviolette Bridge in Trois-Rivières, the lowest insurmountable obstacle on the St. Lawrence River for vessels prior to arriving in Montreal. The bridge has 52 metres of clearance under its structure.

Air draft – the height of the part of a ship that is out of the water – is vital for vessels, especially cruise ships that are built higher than cargo ships because of their multiple passenger decks.

“I commend Hydro-Québec for committing to take action,” said Sylvie Vachon, the MPA’s president and CEO. “This is excellent news for the cruise sector in Montreal, which has continued to evolve over the past three years thanks to the work of our marketing and operations teams and the support of Montreal Cruise Committee partners.”

For its part, the MPA revamped its Iberville Passenger Terminal last year. It painted the interior walls and added new eye-catching signage so that cruise passengers can easily find their way around the terminal. It painted the outer walls light grey. On the parking side, it painted the outside wall Port of Montreal blue, overlaid with an elegant, stylized white ship.

Nevertheless, the MPA is currently evaluating an improvement project for the cruise terminal that it would like to develop in concert with Montreal’s 375th anniversary in 2017.

The port further enhanced its cruise services last year with the appointment Jean-Charles Côté as customer service and cruise coordinator. He is responsible for the quality of customer service provided to cruise passengers arriving in Montreal and ensures coordination among all partners involved in the cruise sector.

The port also won an award for its cruise operations from the prestigious Cruise Insight magazine for a fifth consecutive year in 2013. The port took home the prize for Most Efficient Port Services. The award recognizes the port’s efficient combination of port agency and customs services and its strong working relationship with cruise line operations departments.

The port also welcomed in 2013 the largest cruise ship to ever visit Montreal. The 253-metre-long AIDAbella, operated by Aida Cruises, can accommodate 2,500 passengers and close to 650 crew. She will return to Montreal twice in 2014.

“The 2014 season is looking very good,” Ms. Gaudet said. “We are expecting to see some 60,000 international passengers and crew members between May 17 and November 11.”

Indeed, the port will welcome for the first time cruise ships during the month of November. Montreal’s cruise season has traditionally ended in mid to late October.

Also new this year, more German ships, most notably the luxurious MS Europa, will visit the port.

“For its part, the Montreal Cruise Committee will increase its efforts to ensure that cruise lines include Montreal on their itineraries and that they offer pre- or post-cruise packages to their clients,” Ms. Gaudet said. “Furthermore, we will launch an extensive advertising campaign geared to travel agents in an effort to position Montreal as a destination of choice for passengers cruising the St. Lawrence River.”