Massive cruise ship stops in Vancouver, prompting calls for port changes
The Norwegian Joy stopped in Vancouver Friday, bringing with it millions in economic spinoff and calls for changes to the port to allow for more megaships.
Measuring more than 1,000 feet (333 metres) in length with enough space for nearly 4,000 passengers and 2,000 crew, Joy is one of the largest in its class among Norwegian’s fleet.
It first sailed in 2017 throughout Asia but underwent a $50 million refurbishment in 2019 before making its North American debut in Vancouver.
There are the usual amenities for a major cruise ship: a casino, a theatre, dozens of dining options and a bar. Then there are the extras: a huge waterslide, a virtual reality room, a massive observation deck and a full outdoor go-kart track.
The boat is so big it almost didn’t make it into the Vancouver port. There was only two metres of clearance between the top of the boat and the bottom of the Lions Gate Bridge.
Planning for the trip took months and was specifically scheduled for the lowest tide possible. Because of that, Joy will mostly run between Seattle and Alaska, skipping Vancouver.
That has experts advocating for changes that would allow for more megaships to stop in Vancouver.
“They could be (doing) everything from potentially looking at 'Is there a way to raise the Lions Gate Bridge by a couple metres?' to finding another location to develop a cruise terminal outside of downtown,” explained Cruise Lines International Association representative Barry Penner. “Not getting rid of Canada Place, but having something in addition.”
Alaskan cruises are up 16 per cent and there is a huge demand for large ships like Joy.
“We’ve certainly been expanding the size of our ships,” Norwegian Cruise Lines President and CEO Andy Stuart told CTV News Vancouver.
Changes to the port or Lions Gate could pay off. Annually, the cruise industry brings in about $2.5 billion in economic activity in British Columbia, supporting 15,000 jobs.
“Every time a cruise ship calls on Vancouver, and picks up passengers, adds provisions to the ship, buys fuel, food and other equipment, it’s worth about $3 million for the provincial economy for an average size cruise ship,” said Penner, adding that Joy is far above average.
Penner said the key is that there needs to be the political will to make the necessary changes before other jurisdictions become more popular ports.