Cruise line will offer sailings from Victoria for first time


For the first time, cruise ship passengers will be able to start and end their cruise in Victoria, B.C.

Even though Victoria's Ogden Point is a busy port for cruise ships all summer long, Vancouver Island residents who want to take a cruise cannot embark from here. Instead, they have to travel to either the Vancouver or Seattle ports to join the cruise. 

But that could all change soon. Cunard Line, a British–American cruise line, is offering tickets on four sailings on the route to Alaska from Seattle in July and August 2020.

"For a brand like Cunard which has a history both in Canada and the U.K., we really see Victoria as a market that has a special connection to the U.K. ... we see this as a real opportunity," said Josh Leibowitz, senior vice president of Cunard NA.

"We're hoping that the [Victoria] population receives it well ...  if the demand [for the four sailings] is high, obviously we'll see if we're going to expand it."

Cruise ships at Ogden Point as the fog lifts. (Herb Neufeld/flickr)

Lindsay Gaunt, director of cruise development for the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, says the authority is excited about the new development.

"We've also been very clear that we see that there's an opportunity for Victoria to become a secondary home port for the region," Gaunt told Robyn Burns, host of All Points West

Economy boost

Victoria is currently a stop during the course of the cruise, bringing in tourists and boosting the economy during the summer. But cruise passengers embarking in Vancouver are not allowed to disembark — leave the cruise entirely — in Victoria because of federal requirements that prevent vessels registered in another country from moving locals from one port to another within Canada.

Gaunt says having Victoria cruise trips will boost the hospitality industry in Victoria.

"There is a great opportunity with this type of an operation ... it gives us time to build up our capacity and our capabilities ... to really serve that type of operation and market," she said.

Gaunt says the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is currently in talks with other cruise lines to encourage similar projects where Islanders can embark and disembark on cruises from Victoria.