Cruise ships got local help

·3 min read

THUNDER BAY, ONT. — Kerry Berlinquette, a travel agent with the Travel Agent Next Door, made the trek back home from Duluth, Minn., on Monday after delivering the final batch of lost and recovered luggage from the airlines that brought cruise ship passengers to and from the ships.

The last cruise ship of the season visited Thunder Bay last weekend. Summing it up on her social media page online, she used the number four as a symbolic glimpse into the behind-the-scenes workings of hosting cruise lines in Thunder Bay.

Berlinquette began with, “it’s been four months of working with the Viking Octantis while she graced us with her presence in Thunder Bay and Silver Islet, and four months of working with tourism industry partners to ensure that our guests had the best possible experience.”

As a 30-plus-year veteran of working in the tourism industry, Berlinquette’s job this summer was booking shore excursions and flights for cruise ship passengers travelling through Thunder Bay.

“This weekend, I had a couple in their 70s and they were so lovely,” she said. “They tried to get to Thunder Bay last Friday and their flight had to turn around and go back to Toronto. They came from San Diego and already had a very long day. They tried to come back again on Saturday but once again the flight was turned around and had to go back to Toronto. They finally landed on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. and we raced them in a minivan out to Silver Island to jump on the Viking Octantis ship.”

What used to be travelling with ease has become a nightmare for some, particularly around the problems over the summer at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport with flight delays, cancellations and lost luggage.

But the standards set out by Thunder Bay and the Viking Ship line saw Berlinquette sprinting back and forth to Duluth every Monday delivering lost luggage to Viking passengers at that point in their journey.

“Each Monday all summer I would collect luggage that came in on Sundays and Monday mornings before noon and head to Duluth to get it to the ship so that the guests would have their luggage for the rest of their cruise.”

There were also four months of gratitude for the team she worked with.

“There were no sick days. There was no, ‘I can’t make it’” she wrote.

Berlinquette credits the leadership by Sean Davies of Maintair Aviation Services, which is structured for airport service and worked to service the cruise ship visits.

From reloading the visiting ships with food to emptying waste and sewage, Davies and his team did the work.

“They even went to get deck furniture that blew overboard during a storm. They ran out of caviar so we got them their caviar,” Berlinquette said.

She and Davies worked together on shore excursions when people hopped off the ship.

Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal