Ship sail

Victoria’s cruise season gets off to a rocky start due to ship cancellations

Many in Victoria were hoping for smooth sailings for the return of cruising this year, but the season got off to a bad start.

In one of the last cancellations, the Ruby Princess canceled her trip to Victoria on Thursday due to mechanical issues, according to Ian Robertson, CEO, Greater Victoria Harbor Authority.

“There are all kinds of factors that lead to some cancellations, and like I said, some ships are arriving later than usual,” Robertson said.

But after two years of inaction, the seas are rough for many ships.

The Ruby Princess undergoes repairs, delayed in Seattle, instead of sailing her usual route to Alaska and Victoria.

The missing ships are felt by the local tourism industry.

At Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf, pedicab driver Melaina Pearson keeps business flowing while chatting with passing tourists.

Business is good, but she said the cancellations are impacting all pedicures.

“Some of us will be staying home,” Pearson said. “We won’t go out if there’s no cruise ship because there’s less traffic downtown.”

And it’s not just the ships that are out of shape.

Robertson said the shore support industry was also struggling.

“We had difficulty just moving, finding bus drivers to move passengers out of the terminal,” Robertton said. “There is no availability.”

Globally, the cruise industry is adjusting to growing demand while trying to keep ships going, according to Barry Penner, legal counsel for the Cruise Lines International Association.

“I expect things to get better as the season progresses,” Penner said. “A number of ships that are in our area, our region, have had to undergo additional maintenance. Some of this has happened over the past few weeks. So hopefully this will allow ships to resume operations in a more normal way.

This year, 334 ships carrying 790,000 passengers were expected in Victoria, the record number for 2019.

And the industry hopes to set sail on calmer seas in the months ahead.

WATCH: First cruise ship in two years arrives in Victoria after pandemic break

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