Ship sail

The business district prepares for cruise ship visitors | Local News

Businesses in the Thunder Bay Waterfront District Business Improvement Area are gearing up for summer and receiving cruise ship visitors, the first of which will arrive May 27.

With seven Thunder Bay calls for the 378-passenger Viking Octantus and two other port calls for the 210-passenger Ocean Navigator, Thunder Bay will see the most visitors in years.

Guests will be welcomed by Tourism Thunder Bay with a concierge tent on board the ship, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, to help guests connect with attractions, culinary options and transport.

Maps, magazines and QR codes of city walking tours and other digital media, as well as a brochure on the Business Improvement Area, will be provided to all guests.

“We are preparing our businesses so that they can all be on deck when we have people moored here,” said Kara Pratt, BIA Waterfront District Coordinator.

“We want to get them pumped up for new visitors to town, which is exciting after all the delays.”

Pratt says there are a lot of partnerships between the companies, the ZAC and the city.

“It will be a learning experience all summer I think, mainly with the first (cruise ship) in May, because everything is still quite fluid in terms of pandemic rules. I know our businesses are excited to show off what they can do, what they have in their stores, and what the culinary scene will bring.

From fresh pasta and fish dishes to giftware and apparel, shoppers can expect the best of local Thunder Bay produce.

Pratt says the BIA has been approved to open the streets for the summer and a financial boost from the Tourism Development Fund has been provided by the Community Economic Development Commission to help beautify the area.

Pratt is waiting for the availability of summer students to activate space on North Cumberland Street and the temperature to warm up so they can install planters in the area.

Science North will be on hand for kids’ activities, patios will be open soon, and painted picnic tables will all be back to brighten up the space with local art.

“I made this request to the city to get these specific picnic tables back,” Pratt said. “We will have greenery and we will also have flowers.

The waterfront BIA is working with Bill Martin’s Nursery to install planters that the BIA purchased from him, and Trevisanutto’s Greenhouses Landscape and Design for other elements.

Pratt says the Botanical Conservatory is currently undergoing major renovations and does not currently have the capacity to produce the plants needed for the district.

“We bought our own hanging baskets, we line them and the city takes care of them in terms of watering and we are very grateful for that,” she said.

“They also help us find a contractor to water all the other plants we get downtown, so it’s a great partnership between the two of us.”

Meanwhile, the streets are being cleared now that the snow has melted. Following this, the patios will be assembled and opened.

“I have a job offer for our community art coordinator and hope they can help coordinate artists and musicians downtown,” Pratt said.

“There are a few places downtown where we’re hoping to have some artwork installed that will lighten up the gray we have there. From musicians to sculptures, if we can get approval to do that, I don’t want to hold anyone back in terms of creativity and what they can do. We will be able to showcase artists from Thunder Bay because that’s really our thing, showing local pieces, that’s our raison d’être.

It is expected that all Viking cruise ship tours will arrive at Pool 6 Harbor around 6pm on Friday. The ship will remain moored in port on Saturday and again on Sunday until 5:00 p.m. for the exchange and departure of passengers.

The Ocean Navigator will be in port between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. June 12 and 26, with shore excursions planned. Typically, around 30% of passengers stay on the ship while moored, while others explore on their own.

Passenger exchanges involve some guests arriving a day or two earlier, or staying a day or two longer. Some visitors will stay at the Delta Hotel. Pratt says they expect these folks to explore food and crafts on their own.