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Growing cruise ship size forces Port of Vancouver to rethink infrastructure

Norwegian Joy barely squeezes under Vancouver bridge

PortandTerminal.com, May 1, 2019

The world’s larger new cruise ships can barely squeeze under the Vancouver’s Lions Gate bridge and that’s jeopardizing the city’s future as a destination port.

The arrival of another supersized cruise ship in Vancouver Harbour is reigniting calls to revamp B.C.’s coastal infrastructure.

The 333-metre Norwegian Joy sailed under the Lions Gate Bridge last Thursday night with barely enough room to squeeze through at low tide and had to wait for the waters to lower again to sail back out on its way to Alaska Friday.

Passenger video – watch Norwegian Joy barely squeeze under Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge

Cruise ships these days are becoming larger to increase the operational economies of scale in an effort to reduce costs and increase profits. That poses a problem for Vancouver, and the province’s cruise ship industry as a whole.

With no option to raise or remove the Lions Gate Bridge, Barry Penner of the Cruise Line International Association said the time has come to consider an alternate home for the cruise ship industry in Vancouver that doesn’t have such restrictions.

Peter Xotta, the vice-president of planning and operations at the Port of Vancouver, has said that the port recognizes this problem and is already examining options that include building another cruise ship terminal elsewhere.

A lot to lose

Vancouver’s Canada Place Cruise Terminal (Photo: Tourism Vancouver)

According to the Port, each cruise ship visit at Canada Place adds $3 million to the local economy, and the industry supports 12,000 jobs and spurs $549 million in total wages each year. Over 300,000 hotel room nights are annually generated by passengers before and after their cruise.

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