Ship sail

St. John’s cruise ship season stronger than before pandemic, expert says

Major cruise ships are once again threading their way through St. John’s Harbor after the COVID-19 pandemic effectively scuttled the industry for more than two years.

So far this tourist season, 13 ships have docked in St. John’s and another 16 are expected to go there. A total of nearly 30 ships are expected to hit St. John’s shores in 2022, bringing about 37,000 passengers with them.

Cruise industry expert Ross Klein, a professor at Memorial University, says this year’s season is a little more dynamic than those before the pandemic and that there has been a change in the type of ships and visiting passengers.

He says there has been a move towards European-based lines and expedition ships on longer voyages, rather than US-based lines on shorter sails.

“We’re seeing more ships doing what I would call voyages, so they’re away for 12 to 30 days,” Klein said Tuesday.

Klein says that’s because U.S.-based companies, including Carnival and Royal Caribbean, don’t travel as far as Newfoundland and Labrador on shorter routes. He also says these companies are recovering more slowly from COVID-19.

“Sales aren’t as robust and I think they’re struggling a bit more,” he said.

Ross Klein says there is a change in the type of ship and passengers visiting the province. File photo. (Submitted by Ross Klein)

Klein says the ships that make the long trip to the province attract an older clientele with more time and money to pay for a three- to four-week trip.

“The Seabourn, which is the ship arriving today…it’s an expensive cruise line,” he said. The ultra-luxury cruise liner Seabourn Quest, which carries about 450 passengers on a transatlantic cruise from Europe to Canada, costs “probably between $600 and $1,000 a day,” he said.

The ship is part of a 38-day expedition that departed from Spain with stops in France, the UK, Iceland and Greenland before landing in St. Anthony and continuing to St. John’s. A similar route on the ship that leaves around this time next year costs nearly $27,000 per person, while seven days on a Seabourn ship in the Caribbean will set you back around $5,000 per head.

“He’s not your typical tourist, and in some ways that’s the kind of tourist we’d like to attract here,” Klein said.

The Seabourn Quest, pictured here moored in Happy Valley Goose Bay on Monday, is operated by Holland America Group. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

“fine boutique or art gallery.

“They’re looking for things that are definitely unique, something they’d like to take home as a souvenir, and cost may not be as big a barrier as it is for many visitors.”

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