Port Charlottetown optimistic for 2022 cruise season

·2 min read
From spring through the fall most days Charlottetown Harbour was hosting a cruise ship or two, or even three, before the pandemic. (CBC - image credit)
From spring through the fall most days Charlottetown Harbour was hosting a cruise ship or two, or even three, before the pandemic. (CBC - image credit)

The Port of Charlottetown is holding out hope for a return to cruise ship visits next year.

The port had been in line to set a record for visits in 2020 when the entire industry was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada remains closed to cruise ships in 2021.

But the port already has 75 visits booked for 2022, said CEO Mike Cochrane. That is fewer than the record 87 visits in 2019, but the ships have a capacity of 135,000 passengers, and that would be record-breaking.

Cochrane is confident the cruise industry will bounce back, particularly when people have a look at new safety protocols that have been put in place.

"To be honest with you, I think it's going to be the safest vacation you'll ever take, is to go on a cruise in the near future. It's just phenomenal the things they're doing," he said.

People love to cruise and they'll be back, says Mike Cochrane.
People love to cruise and they'll be back, says Mike Cochrane.(Randy McAndrew/CBC)

"People are loyal to cruising. They want to cruise. They want to get on a boat. Everybody wants to get out on a vacation these days, so I think cruise is going to rebound fine."

In February, the federal government extended its ban on cruise ships carrying more than 100 passengers for another year. The first boat currently scheduled to visit Charlottetown is in April 2022.

Lost revenue

The ban has been expensive for the port.

Cochrane estimates that the port is losing more than $1 million in revenue a year, but he said there have been no layoffs.

"Tightening the belt as best we can, focusing on trying to trim where we can," said Cochrane.

"There's still a body of work there that has to get done in order to, you know, get everything back to normal. Everybody's working extra hard, watching our expenses and just keep moving forward."

The marketing manager position has been vacant for about nine months, and he has been covering that work.

He said a consortium of cruise ports across the country are discussing what they will need to rebound after the industry resumes. He expects a plan to be in place by the end of the year at the latest. The port corporation has three other staff members.

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