Expecting its largest season on record, Corner Brook is ready to take the N.L. cruise ship crown

·3 min read
Cruise ships will return to the Port of Corner Brook beginning on May 16. The city will see over 42,000 passengers dock from May to November. (Lindsay Bird/CBC - image credit)
Cruise ships will return to the Port of Corner Brook beginning on May 16. The city will see over 42,000 passengers dock from May to November. (Lindsay Bird/CBC - image credit)
Lindsay Bird/CBC
Lindsay Bird/CBC

The City of Corner Brook is preparing for its largest cruise ship season on record, which will bring over 30 ships and 42,000 passengers to Newfoundland's west coast.

Thirty-two cruise ships will drop anchor at the Port of Corner Brook, including seven vessels arriving in the city for the first time. There will also be four days where two ships will be in the Bay of Islands at the same time.

The first vessel, the Regent Seven Seas Cruises Navigator, will arrive at the port on May 16. The 42,136 total passengers puts Corner Brook almost on par with St. John's in terms of passengers, which has 36 cruise ship calls, beginning in April.

It's an exciting time for Jennifer Hartley, the port corporation's business development manager, who hopes 2023 will be a return to form after the industry began to recover from the impact of COVID-19 over the last two years.

"[In] 2022 we really focused on cruise resumption and making sure that everything resumed safely," Hartley told CBC News on Thursday.

"Now that we did that and it was a very big success, we're looking forward to 2023, for all intents and purposes, to be a normal year for us."

The largest ship docking in Corner Brook, the Norweigian Joy, will bring over 3,800 passengers to the city on three separate trips beginning in September.

Alex Kennedy/CBC
Alex Kennedy/CBC

Work is underway to make sure the port is ready for the incoming passengers, who Hartley said have an important effect on the city's economy.

"I think a lot of people do not realize how big the economic impact really is for our community. In 2022 with the number of cruise passengers and crew that came here, we saw $8.6 million in economic impact," she said.

"There's so many people that get touched by cruise, that it's such an important sector to our region."

"It's not just a magnet from somewhere, it's also an experience that they can share." - Glenda Simms

The arrival of cruise ships also brings a buzz around the city according to Glenda Simms, the City of Corner Brook's tourism coordinator.

"Having more visitors is obviously beneficial, and it brings a different vibe. It makes everybody feel like summer is happening and, you know, things are moving and growing," she said.

Simms said the city is planning summer events around the days boats will be docked, adding the city and businesses are focused on giving travellers the most memorable experience. Businesses can help by doing something as simple as putting a greeter at the door of a business, she added, which can go a long way for people visiting a new place.

Alex Kennedy/CBC
Alex Kennedy/CBC

Having previously worked on a cruise ship, she knows Newfoundland is a destination travellers want to visit.

"I found that any time they knew I was from Newfoundland, one of the main things was, 'that's a bucket list item.' And I would ask them why, and they say, 'we hear the people are so kind, the culture is so rich,'" Simms said.

"We want to make sure they bring home stories that they can share with their family and friends. So it's not just a magnet from somewhere, it's also an experience that they can share."

Alex Kennedy/CBC
Alex Kennedy/CBC

Both Simms and Hartley are headed to Florida this week to promote Corner Brook and Newfoundland and Labrador's ports at Seatrade 2023, an international cruise ship networking event.

Simms said that collaboration will be key for growing cruise ship seasons down the line.

"That also gives us an opportunity to promote and sell not only Corner Brook, but any of our ports of call to cruise industry folks."

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