Port Metro Vancouver’s cruise season saw robust growth this year. The Port welcomed approximately 815,000 cruise ship passengers during its 2013 season, a more than 20 per cent jump over last year’s total. While Vancouver’s proximity to Alaskan ports of call and its transit of the Inside Passage are fundamental to its success, the return of several homeporting vessels including the Disney Wonder, Holland America’s Amsterdam, the Norwegian Sun and Oceania’s Regatta played a key role in the Port’s exceptional season.


Notwithstanding this success, Port Metro Vancouver continued to seek innovative ways to maintain and further boost cruise traffic through efficiency and infrastructure initiatives in 2012. These built upon operations and facilities already hailed by industry insiders. At this year’s Cruise Shipping Miami, Vancouver was awarded the Most Efficient Cruise Terminal Operation award by Cruise Insight magazine.

“Cruise lines are surveyed, and these awards are directly based on their responses,” says Carmen Ortega, the Port’s Manager of Business Development. “It’s good to know that our customers appreciate our service and products.”

Among others, the Port has also received the Best Turnaround Port Operations award and was named the most passenger-friendly port in North America by Berlitz over the past few years.

One of this year’s new service initiatives was the US Direct program, launched in May. The program effectively simplifies customs and immigration processing for US passengers arriving on the same day of embarkation, reducing processing and wait times at both the airport and the port. According to Ortega, it was a complex program to get off the ground, requiring extensive collaboration between Port Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Airport Authority, airlines, cruise lines, the Canada Border Services Agency and the US Customs and Border Patrol. Initial feedback has been good and the overall success of the program will be assessed and evaluated following the end of the season.

Also new this year, a third shore power connection was installed at Canada Place terminal to service the unique configuration of the Disney Wonder and Holland America’s Amsterdam. The program is a joint effort between the Port, the federal and provincial governments and the cruise lines.

“We certainly can’t do these projects solely on our own,” says Ortega. “Having strong relationships with our customers and industry partners enables collaboration on projects like US Direct and shore power.”

Shore power is one of the components of the Port’s EcoAction Program, which offers reduced harbour dues to vessels using a variety of emissions reduction options, such as the use of scrubbers and other vessel and engine technologies or cleaner fuels. Ortega says that the discounts are based on which elements or criteria are being used voluntarily by the vessel.

“We want to acknowledge the investment that the lines are making for the benefit of our local environment and the sustainability of our port operations.”

For the 2014 season, Port Metro Vancouver is continuing to pursue ongoing improvements to its customer service and operations. The Port is currently assessing passenger flows through Canada Place and identifying the source and locations of bottlenecks or points of congestion. A report addressing these concerns is currently being prepared and recommendations for improvements are expected this winter to prepare for future success.

Vancouver is the largest cruise ship port in Canada and according to a recent report, B.C. ports collectively accounted for 57 per cent of Canadian cruise ship traffic in 2012. Direct spending by cruise lines, passengers and crew pumped $790 million into B.C.’s economy in 2012 alone.