The final cruise ship of the 2022 season depart from the Port of Vancouver on Nov. 2, completing a comeback year for the local cruise industry, following a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
The Port of Vancouver said that it welcomed a record 306 cruise ship visits this year, an 6% increase compared to the last pre-pandemic year of 2019.
“It’s been fantastic to see cruise ships and passengers back in town after the two-year pause through the height of the pandemic,” said Robin Silvester, president and CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the federal agency that oversees the Port of Vancouver.
“This year’s cruise season was an impressive comeback story for a critical catalyst for the local tourism industry and it provided a much-needed boost for many regional tourism and hospitality businesses,” he said.
In March 2020, as part of its COVID-19 response, the Government of Canada prohibited cruise ships in Canadian waters. That prohibition was lifted in November 2021 and all remaining COVID-19-specific travel requirements were removed on Oct. 1, 2022.
While passenger numbers were lower in 2022, as people slowly returned to their pre-pandemic travel habits, occupancy levels gradually increased throughout the season and in early November were projected to average approximately 70% for the year, the port authority said.
This meant about 815,000 passenger visits Vancouver in 2022, compared to about 1.1 million in 2019, according to port authority data.
“Progressively during the season, passenger numbers on cruise ships calling at the Port of Vancouver have risen, as pandemic restrictions eased and consumer confidence bounced back,” Silvester said. “Looking ahead, we’re seeing early indications of a record-setting season in 2023.”
Based on preliminary bookings, in 2023 there will be 334 cruise ship visits to the Canada Place cruise terminal at the Port of Vancouver. If the industry operates in line with normal capacities once again, Vancouver could have a record 1.3 million cruise passenger visits in 2023, according to the port authority.