A top official in the cruise industry is warning that Vancouver may be unable to accommodate growing tourism demand with no investing in its facilities.
According to the president of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) in the North West and Canada, Greg Wirtz, Vancouver is lagging behind other port cities like Seattle WA, that are heavily investing in their port infrastructure.
In 2014 Port Vancouver shut Ballantyne Pier to cruise ships, leaving Canada Place as the only remaining cruise terminal of the city.
Vancouver's cruise traffic grew from the low of 600,000 vacationers in 2010 to 827,000 in 2016. The average capacity of cruise liners has increased by 138% to 3,100 passengers, according to World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure.
The association reports the average ship length has also increased by 50%, up to 300 metres. But Canada Place was built for vessels of a generation ago.
In May, Seattle's port officials unveiled a US$30 million renovation at Bell Street Cruise Terminal at Pier 66. This expansion tripled the square footage of the terminal and was custom designed for Norwegian Bliss, set to become the biggest cruise liner on the West Coast in 2018. Norwegian Cruise Line and Port of Seattle each shelled out US$15 million for the renovation.
Port of Vancouver revealed it was mulling plans for future facility and was in talks with governments and tourism associations. There are also concerns from the cruise ship sector about the height limitation posed by Lion's Gate Bridge.
There is nearly a 60-metre distance between the water and the lowest part of Lion's Gate Bridge at its centre point, which changes depending on the tide. Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas has had to bypass Vancouver for Victoria BC as the ship is too large.