As the 2023 cruise season winds down, Montreal’s cruise industry – a source of significant economic benefits for the city, is proving that it is back in full swing.
According to Montreal Port Authority, there was a 33% upswing in traffic over last year, with 51,000 passengers and 16,200 crew members.
Montreal‘s cruise season began on April 29, 2023 with the arrival of Holland America Line’s Zaandam, and ended on October 30, 2023 with the departure of Oceania Cruises’ Insignia. A total of 23 ships from 15 different cruise lines made 48 calls, including 12 stopovers and 36 embarking and disembarking operations. More proof that the cruise industry is on course for a comeback: ship occupancy averaged 90% compared with 75% in 2022.
As well as the economic benefits directly generated by cruise passengers, the cruise industry benefits Quebec producers and the agri-food sector, because docked cruise ships are supplied with local products. Over the course of the season, 200+ tonnes of locally-produced foodstuffs were delivered to cruise ships for onboard restaurant services.
The cruise industry is also confirming its progress towards a more sustainable model. Since 2017, the Port of Montreal has been offering cruise ships the option to refuel at its shore power connections on the Grand Quay. This technology makes it possible for cruise ships and wintering vessels to turn off their engines while berthed, reducing GHG emissions at each connection. In response to growing industry demand, nine ships connected this season, resulting in a reduction of 370 tonnes of GHGs, or the equivalent of taking 105 cars off the road for a whole year.
Another special feature of Grand Quay terminals is their direct dockside connection for wastewater treatment, an advantage used by 14 ships this season.
Thanks to Tourisme Montréal’s “Visit Montréal the sustainable way” program, which aims to create smart tourism with a view to sustainable development, Montreal has been awarded first place in North America in the 2022 Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index), a world benchmark in sustainable tourism.
This season was marked both by the return of Port of Montreal regulars and by the development of a new luxury niche, with smaller ships offering new experiences.
The opening of the season with the Zaandam coincided with the 150th anniversary of Holland America Line, which over the years has established itself as the leading cruise line calling at Montreal. To celebrate this anniversary, a commemorative plaque was presented to the ship’s captain. Between 2010 and 2022, Holland America Line ships called at Montreal 136 times and carried 337,111 passengers, representing 54% of all passengers to Montreal during this time period. This season, Zaandam called eight times, bringing 21,450 passengers and 4,600 crew members.
Five new ships made their first calls at Montreal: Hanseatic Inspiration from Hapag-Lloyd Cruises (230 PAX); Vista from Oceania Cruises (1200 PAX); Pacific World from Peace Boat (1950 PAX); and Viking Neptune and Viking Mars from Viking Ocean Cruises (930 PAX).
To welcome visitors even better, this year the Port of Montreal completed the finishing touches to its major rehabilitation project on the cruise terminal at the Port of Montreal’s Grand Quay. The public opening of the observation tower last May and the addition in July of the spectacular BONJOUR structure, created by Tourisme Montréal on the green roof, will enhance the welcoming experience for visitors in the long term.
Turning to the 2024 season, the Port of Montreal expects growth to increase by 6%, with 54,000 passengers and 7 new ships:
• Champlain and Lyrial by Ponant • Borealis by Fred Olsen • Nautica by Oceania • Seven Seas Grandeur by Regent Seven Seas • Volendam by Holland America • The World Explorer by Rivages du Monde
“It’s exciting for us to see how Montreal’s appeal as a tourist city and popular cruise destination keeps growing. Higher traffic is coming and our port facilities are ready after a complete makeover to give visitors an optimal experience that lives up to the city’s international reputation. The Port of Montreal is proud to contribute to the growth, development and success of this tourism sector, which generates huge economic benefits for the region and the province,” said Geneviève Deschamps, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Montreal.
“The cruise industry is a powerful vector of international outreach for our city. The Port is a gateway to a city where major events, gastronomy and well-being create an unforgettable experience. Montreal is a recognized tourist destination, and cruises are one of the keys to our success,” said Yves Lalumière, President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal.