- In more than two years, a massive cruise ship has docked in Canadian waters for the first time.
- Visitors and residents alike told CTV News that the start of cruise ship season is a welcome respite after two years of COVID-19-related restrictions.
- Princess Cruises has postponed the arrival of the Caribbean Princess, which was scheduled for Wednesday.
A huge cruise ship has docked in Canadian waters for the first time in more than two years.
Victoria residents gathered Saturday morning to greet Holland America’s Koningsdam and its more than 1,200 passengers at the city’s cruise liner port at Ogden Point.
After two years of COVID-19-related restrictions, visitors and residents alike told CTV News that the start of cruise ship season is a welcome relief.
“It just marks a real return to something normal and wonderful,” Nancy Schrader, a James Bay resident who spent her 20th wedding anniversary onboard the Koningsdam three years ago.
“To see this here is a solid indication of regeneration,” her husband, James Gannon, added.
The arrival and the first of more than 350 cruise ships set to visit Victoria between now and businesses have eagerly anticipated November in Victoria’s hard-hit tourist and hospitality industry.
Alan Thilmot, manager of Victoria Pedicab Company, remarked, “I almost choked up a little bit watching the ship coming in.”
Thilmot’s business has shrunk from 28 bicycle-based cabs on the road to only three in the previous two years due to a shortage of tourists caused by the epidemic.
He’s now in the process of rehiring employees.
“It’ll be a fantastic summer,” he said.
According to the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, huge ships will bring in approximately 780,000 tourists to the city this year. Cruise ship visits have previously been expected to bring over $140 million to the local economy.
“To see the Koningsdam right off the breakwater was a beautiful sight, and it’s been a long time coming,” said Ian Robertson, GVHA CEO.
Although the ship’s arrival offered feelings of relief and normalcy, the epidemic loomed largely.
COVID-19 vaccination is needed for all passengers and crew members on ships landing in Canada, and the federal government has strong safety standards for cruise lines.
Coronavirus transmission is also on the rise in Canada, thanks to a combination of lax public health regulations and the highly transmissible BA.2 subvariant of Omicron.
This year, the Koningsdam was not supposed to be the first ship in Victoria. The Caribbean Princess, which was supposed to arrive on Wednesday, has been postponed by Princess Cruises.
According to the firm, the ship is now dry-docked in Oregon for repair, and the decision to miss visits to Victoria and Vancouver was taken to give the ship more time to prepare for its extended dry dock stay.
On the CDC’s website, the Caribbean Princess was also given an “Orange status,” indicating that there were enough cases of COVID-19 on board to warrant an investigation.
The Koningsdam arrived in Victoria with a “Green status,” indicating that no cases of COVID-19 or related sickness have been documented on board.
On Saturday, B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming stated, “Our first ship here today is a code green – signaling all-clear for covid – is a terrific indication.”
“It’s unlikely that every visit will be like that, but let’s hope it is for the vast majority of them.”
Source: CTV News