THUNDER BAY, ONT. — All the bustling done by the City of Thunder Bay and local businesses to spruce up the area for the arrival of the first cruise ship in years paid off with the ship’s captain scoring the city well.
Paul Pepe, manager of Tourism Thunder Bay, said the Viking Octantis pilot, or captain, was very impressed with their visit.
“He actually called it one of the best arrivals they’ve had on their trips,” Pepe said.
“He called it one of the best facilities because it was just wide open, clean and safe and secure for them. It worked really well and it was easy to tie up to (the dock).”
Pepe said it was easy for the service vehicles to get next to the ship and it was easy to load with the forklifts. Passenger movement went very smoothly and was appreciated by the visitors.
“They said that we really created a very functional safe and secure facility for them so right off the bat and out of the gate, the dock met the objectives perfectly,” Pepe said.
Water lines have been installed in the dock system this week to allow the city to supply potable water to all of the ships that visit in the future. Pepe says there is a fee for the water and that’s a cost that is recoverable and a revenue source for the city.
Further landscape enhancements, paving and electrical work will be installed throughout the summer. Permanent fencing will also be installed shortly.
“The temporary fencing is up for the next couple of ship visits,” Pepe said.
“We’re just trying to figure out and tweak things from the lessons learned from the first vessel visit of how this dance occurs with the buses, vans, service vehicles and trucks and all these things that are going on down there, vessel side.”
Once the details are determined the permanent fencing will be installed.
Despite the rain during the cruise ship visit, Kara Pratt, co-ordinator of the Waterfront District Business Improvement Area, says the travellers still came off the ship and explored the waterfront district.
“There were a bunch of crew members who came off (the ship) and enjoyed the restaurant and the bar scene downtown along with the music scene,” she said. “There was a great response and we look forward to seeing the next cruise ship come in.”
Pratt says there was a bit of shopping done and many said they look forward to seeing more.
“This is a quick turnaround but they do look forward to seeing more with the next visits that have longer turn-around time in the Thunder Bay port,” Pratt said. “We have shops that are opening up all week now and they’re getting prepared for the (increased) tourism over the summer months.”
The total project proposal for the Pool Six cruise ship dock area was $2.5 million. The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. provided $1.2 million toward the price tag and this week, the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor) invested $500,000 through the tourism relief fund. The balance was covered by the City of Thunder Bay.
Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal