Port Saint John to become homeport for niche expedition line

A Port famous for its hometown welcome is becoming a home of another kind – a homeport. In February, a study revealed the Port City is ideally suited to homeport expedition class cruise ships. In March, Blount Small Ship Adventures confirmed they would be using Saint John as a homeport in 2015.

The announcement comes after the provincial government’s commitment of $300,000 over three years to build infrastructure to accommodate the vessel.

Blount’s services and line of ships fits well within the expedition-class of vessels, carrying 98 passengers on seven to 16-day tours focused on unique destinations, educational opportunities and adventure.

Passengers will board in Portland, ME, stopping in ports like St. Andrews, Campobello and Grand Manan as they head north over a 10-day itinerary. Once they reach Saint John, they disembark as entirely new passengers climb aboard and journey stateside along the same route.

The ship stays in port for three days, taking on supplies. Here, passengers and crew get their opportunity to explore the city.

The Bay of Fundy and the unique features of the area are all drawing interest in the region. As recognition of the brand expands, the provincial government and port will be looking to expand this niche business line.

“Unlike the average visiting cruise ship, our port will not be the first stop for Blount passengers,” Peter Gaulton, chair of Port Saint John’s board of directors, says. “Instead, they will experience the city before our world-class port becomes a gateway to this region’s natural wonders. We are proud to be part of this bigger picture and to be an economic driver for culture-building industries like hospitality, tourism and retail in the province.”

On average, passengers visiting for the day spent between $60 and $80. Homeport passengers spend double that or more. They commute to and from the city, often booking a night in a hotel and enjoying a few meals on the town.

“Homeporting is a game changer, for not only the local merchants and tourism industry in general, but quite frankly for the entire Bay of Fundy experience. Growing the homeporting industry in Saint John will give visitors access to coastal jewels along the Bay of Fundy,” Trevor Holder, minister of tourism, heritage and culture for the province, says.

Expedition class ships turn passengers into explorers. They go where larger ships can’t, bringing passengers closer to a region’s natural beauty.

“We are thrilled to announce this partnership and our continued commitment to New Brunswick and Port Saint John,” Nancy Blount, President, Blount Small Ship Adventures, says. “We have already been operating in the destination as part of Blount’s ‘Classical Maine and the Northeast’ cruise, and know it is beloved by our customers for its historic cities, charming maritime villages and the beauty of its rocky shores jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. Beyond the stunning backdrop it provides, we understand the economic impact of calling Port Saint John home, and are proud to partner with the destination and contribute to its tourism development.”

The 2014 cruise season begins on July 5th. Highlights this season include a record number of double-ship days, seven inaugural calls and the Port’s 1,000th ship call.