The Queen Mary II calls on the Port of Halifax // (c) 2015 Port of Halifax
During the 2015 cruise season, the Port of Halifax welcomed 141 cruise ships, a new record for the Atlantic Canada port.
Halifax has seen a steady increase in cruise calls in the past years, according to a port spokesman, who partly attributed the growth to strong partnerships, upgraded facilities and excellent tourism offerings.
Twenty one major cruise lines called upon Halifax in 2015, with Holland America, Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises and AIDA making some of the most frequent stops. This year, the port welcomed a handful of inaugural calls, including first-time calls from Regal Princess (Princess Cruises), Saint Laurent (Haimark Line), MS Liberty of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International), MS Marco Polo (Cruise & Maritime), AIDAdiva & AIDAmar (AIDA Cruises) and Saga Sapphire (Saga Holidays).
For the first time in 2015, arriving cruise ships were able to take advantage of shore power in Halifax. The shore power project at the Port of Halifax was completed in late 2014, as part of a $10-million cooperative initiative between the Government of Canada, the Province of Nova Scotia and the Halifax Port Authority. Halifax is Canada’s second port, after Vancouver, to install a shore power system. A total of 17 shore power connections were made.
Collectively, the arriving ships brought more than 222,000 passengers to Nova Scotia’s capital during cruise season, which ran from April 27 to Nov. 2, 2015. The highest-volume passenger day was October 16, 2015, which saw approximately 10,000 passengers converge upon the city.
Ships arriving in Halifax are greeted by the 78th Highlanders, a bagpipe troupe performing a traditional dockside greeting, an event that won the port the “Best Port Welcome” award from Dreamworld Cruise Destination Magazine.
Passengers generally have a full day in Halifax, giving them ample opportunity to explore the area. Many start at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, which celebrated its 265th birthday earlier this year or the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Atlantic Canada’s only national museum. Others join optional tour programmes, including whale watching excursions or a tour to one of Nova Scotia’s most-photographed destinations, Peggy’s Cove.
Halifax is one of the largest natural ice-free harbours in the world and has the deepest berths along North America eastern seaboard. The port generates approximately $1.5 billion in annual economic impact and supports more than 11,000 port-related jobs. Annual cruise activity accounts for about eight per cent of all of Nova Scotia’s tourism traffic.