They’re baaa-aaack! The 2019 cruise ship season began this past weekend in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. This year, luxury passenger vessels will be docking here a total of 20 times between June and October. The ships are expected to bring 5,000 visitors, which will inject around $750,000 of direct spending into the local economy.
Three cruise ships will be moored next to Roberta Bondar Park throughout 2019. Pearl Mist and M/V Victory 1 are returning for a number of visits each. As well, a new vessel to the region, Ponant’s Le Champlain, will be making a few stops. The ships are scheduled to dock here on the following days: June 8, June 12, June 15, June 30 (two ships), July 7, July 18, July 22, July 29, August 5, August 13, August 20, August 23, August 27, September 3, September 10, September 20, September 28, October 8 and October 16.
For many years, the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation has been actively working to attract cruise ships to the city. On this front, staff markets the community at industry tradeshow events, including Seatrade Cruise Global. As well, the organization is a member of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition, an advocacy group that works to draw luxury passenger vessels to the region. This activity generates results.
In 2018, cruise ships docked in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario a total of 15 times. The trips drew 3,000 passengers and injected $450,000 in direct visitor spending into the local economy. For a few of the ship visits, they stop on the Michigan side of the St. Mary’s River, especially when multiple vessels are here at the same time. When that happens, the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation coordinates buses for passengers that want to cross the border to experience and see attractions in the Algoma region.
“We partner with cruise ship operators to develop land itineraries and welcome packages for passengers,” said Dan Hollingsworth, Executive Director of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. “Long before vessels stop here, cruise line officials are brought to our city and provided tours. From that, unique land itineraries are created, such as driving excursions along Lake Superior and visits to downtown attractions like the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, Art Gallery of Algoma and Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site.”
Cruise ships have been docking at Roberta Bondar Park for nearly two decades. After some concerted marketing and attraction efforts from local officials, the visits began to throttle up in 2016. “We coordinate with the City of Sault Ste. Marie to generate this activity,” said Hollingsworth. “It’s great to have a solid municipal partner to work with.”