The cruise ship Astor is scheduled to sail into the Port of Corner Brook today, and you can be sure the visit will leave people asking why more cruises don’t stop in the city during the summer.
It’s a question officials at the Corner Brook Port Corporation have heard often and was even posed in a Western Star editorial this past Saturday.
That’s prompted the port to offer up an explanation of how cruise itineraries are decided.
News to some is that the size of our port has nothing to do with it. The overriding factor is geography, our location and distance from other ports.
“For us, the bulk of the business is cruises that are doing the Canada-New England itinerary,” said Nora Fever, business development manager at the port, who said in the summer a lot of those itineraries are seven days or less.
“It’s a week. It’s convenient for people who want to do a week’s vacation. But for us being over here, those visits that are doing seven days, because of our geography there’s not really enough time to squeeze us into that visit.”
The ships that do come here in the summer, like the Astor today and the MS Veendam on July 15, are generally on longer itineraries.
The Astor, chartered by Cruise and Maritime Voyages, is to arrive at 1 p.m. and sail again at 7 p.m. It’s on a 19-day Jazz Sounds and Ocean Waves itinerary from Montreal to Germany.
The Veendam, from Holland America, stopped in as part of a 17-day Voyages of the Vikings cruise. It departed Boston on July 12 and after stopping in the city was to stop in Red Bay and Cartwright and several ports in Greenland and Iceland before sailing to Europe. The voyage will conclude in Amsterdam on July 29.
The typical Canada-New England visits in the fall are 10 days.
“If they have 10 days, there’s enough time to do a call into Corner Brook,” said Fever.
Besides the geography and the time, other factors like fuel cost, the volume of shore excursion products, how much revenue can be made in port and port fees also play a role in determining which ports to visit.
With summer being the peak season everywhere, the competition is high and extends worldwide.
Fever is also chair of the Atlantic Canada Cruise Association and is on the board of Cruise Newfoundland Labrador.
“The big piece of it is to try to drive demand for it and try to have customers wanting to sail up into this region in the summer,” she said. “Reaching directly to the consumer is challengeing. It’s expensive.
“The biggest thing for all of us in the whole region is that we market ourselves together. We market it as an entire region, an entire experience. When a cruise line or a cruise company is looking for their itinerary they’re not just looking for one, they’re looking for the combination of ports that’s goiung to make them a good seller for the whole itinerary.”
The only downside to that is that doesn’t mean ships will automatically visit here.
While there will only be two summer visits this year, the fall will see six. Add in a visit back in May and that’s a total of nine for the year.