By Christopher Williams

Recognizing that cruise lines snub traditional cargo terminals, Port of Saint John officially opened its second cruise ship terminal in two years on November 14. The building was named the Diamond Jubilee Cruise Terminal last May in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee year, and is a key component of a $16.5-million cruise enhancement project.

Formerly the site of dilapidated storage sheds built over a half-century ago, the two-story terminal is located just South of the Marco Polo Cruise Terminal, which opened in June 2010. The Diamond Jubilee Cruise Terminal accommodates 340-metre ships and welcomed its first vessel on September 5 with the arrival of the Disney Magic.

“This is a very strategic piece of infrastructure for our community,” said Trevor Holder, New Brunswick’s Minister of Tourism, Heritage and Culture. Just a few weeks earlier, Holder announced funding to study the idea of making Saint John a home port where passengers could begin their cruise rather than just serve as a popular destination for passengers since 1989.

“The new terminal is designed to interact with the community as well as cruise passengers,” Jim Quinn President and CEO, Port Saint John, told about 100 guests at the open house. Tour guides showed off building features including a summer roof-top viewing area, accessible to the public, even when a cruise ship is docking at the terminal. The second level features a conference room, outdoor patio, kitchen and washrooms that can be rented for events such as weddings throughout the year. Saint John Port Authority housed its executive offices in the adjacent Marco Polo Cruise Terminal two years ago.

The Diamond Jubilee Cruise Terminal replicates the character of Saint John heritage buildings and blends visually with the Marco Polo design and a new waterfront condominium development directly across the street. The interior is painted vibrant blue and orange, and circular acoustical panels dampen the roar of passengers entering the terminal via escalator.

A highlight of the grand opening was the donation of a large work of art by a local shore excursion company, Aquila Tours. It is the final product of a summer-long project with children from the Disney Magic who painted ceramic tiles under the direction of local mosaicist Sheryl Crowley. The individual tiles were mounted by Ms. Crowley into a 4-inch by 8-inch art piece, depicting a Bay of Fundy North Atlantic Right Whale tail.

The overall cruise enhancement project includes berth enhancements at both this terminal and at Long Wharf in the port’s inner harbour. The federal and provincial governments contributed $4.5 million to the total project, with the remaining amount funded by Saint John Port Authority. Diamond Jubilee Cruise Terminal was designed for Saint John Port Authority by Dillon Consulting and architect Toss Solutions.

In 2012, 75 cruise ships called on Saint John with approximately 193,000 passengers.