by Mark Cardwell

Port of Sept-Îles and its regional tourism partners have been working hard in recent years to increase the region’s attractiveness as an international cruise ship destination.

And judging by the results of the current cruise season, those efforts have not been in vain.

“We’re having a record year,” said Mario Sévigny, Cruise Director with Destination Sept-Îles Nakauinanu, a non-profit tourism development group funded by the Port, the City of Sept-Îles, and the federal and provincial governments.

A total of 15 ships carrying 7,600 passengers and 4,200 crew members will visit the port on Quebec’s rugged North Shore this calendar year.

That’s nearly four times the annual average number of ships since 2009 when Holland America’s Maasdam became the first-ever cruise ship to make a port visit there.

The Maasdam will notably make three stops this year, the most by any ship.

An historic first was also made by Astor, a cruise ship owned by Germany-based Transocean Tours. It crossed the Atlantic and arrived in Sept-Îles on July 20 before leaving 22 hours later, becoming the first cruise ship in port history to make an overnight stay.

There will see another historic first on Oct. 21, when two cruise ships will be in port at the same time.

According to Sévigny, Sept-Îles is proving to be a popular port of call thanks to its panoramic setting and several original attractions that have been developed.

“The most popular by far is the Innu Experience,” he said, referring to a site on the banks of the nearby Moisie River where visitors can see and sample traditional Innu food and wares.

Visitors can also visit a regional museum, an old fur trading post, the Alouette aluminum refinery, or go on a zodiac boat ride in the massive Bay of Sept-Îles.