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Cruise ship boosts August tourist numbers

Raymond Rosborough, a tourist from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, pays a visit to Fishing Point while the cruise ship MS Rotterdam lies anchored offshore. - THOM BARKER/SPECIAL TO THE NORTHERN PEN
Raymond Rosborough, a tourist from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, pays a visit to Fishing Point while the cruise ship MS Rotterdam lies anchored offshore. - THOM BARKER/SPECIAL TO THE NORTHERN PEN - Thom Barker

Season shaping up to be pretty good; visits on par, icebergs average, whale watching very good

St. Anthony experienced its biggest tourism day of the season on Monday, Aug. 20, with the arrival of the MS Rotterdam cruise ship, as well as, five bus tours and other normal traffic, nearly doubling the town’s population for the day.

With approximately 1,300 passengers and 600 crew, the Rotterdam departed Boston on July 18 for ports of call in Maine, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, The Netherlands and the U.K.

The cruise, known as “Voyage of the Vikings,” seeks to trace the route of Viking exploration in the 10th century.

St. Anthony was the fourth to last stop on the 38-day voyage

Raymond Rosborough, a tourist from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was one of the passengers and told The Northern Pen it’s been an exciting adventure with scenery that was “stunningly beautiful.”
While the scenery was, at times, marred by fog and rain, the stop in St. Anthony was under clear skies.

Of the town of St. Anthony, he said, “It’s very pretty, it’s very nice and clean. I see that you have some store fronts that are vacant, so probably retail issues that there’s not enough people to maintain a bunch, but what’s here is very nice.”

In general terms, the tourism season, thus far, has been pretty good, says Cynthia Randell, who runs the Grenfell Visitor Information Centre.

In June numbers were down from 4,268 in 2017 to 3,921 this year.

“I’m thinking our biggest reason probably is the weather,” she says. “The first two weeks of June we were busy, we had the Iceberg Festival so we saw a nice bit of traffic then, but after that, it kind of tapered off. The weather was cold, it probably has something to do with that.”

July bounced back, however, with 6,265 visitors compared to 6,286 in 2017. Randell also noted that while the July numbers were on par, paid admissions were up three per cent.

The Rotterdam certainly gave the town a boost.

“We’d like to see more of those,” Randell says, noting August was shaping up well for tourism, especially with the good weather and 42 bus tours scheduled for the month.

“I find every year, August kind of tapers off at the beginning, but it’ll pick up again because one thing we know is as kids go back to school you get the couples who don’t like to travel when it’s too busy.”

Paul Alcock, owner of Northland Discovery tours, says the iceberg season was about average, but that whale watching has been particularly good.

“It’s been a very good year. We’ve had quite a lot of whales. Some years, yes, we’ve seen more, but I’d say it’s been above average.”

In August, he says, they have been seeing lots of and white-beaked dolphins, as well as two or three fin whales, which is the second largest species on the planet.

He adds the tourists have been very happy because the humpbacks have been performing.

“The last couple of weeks, breaching, tail lobs, flippering, that’s when they extend their long flippers up and slap them on the water; they’ve been putting off quite a good show.”

Last week, tourists on one of the Northland boats also got to witness a puffin rescue.

“It was entangled in a shrimp bag,” Alcock says. “Unfortunately, a lot of the fishermen, they lose a lot of their shrimp bags off their decks and, of course, that becomes a problem for animals such this puffin.”

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