Port Saint John NB is New Brunswick Canada's largest port city, Canada's 4th busiest cruise port and also the country's 3rd largest cargo port by shipping volume (dry-liquid-break bulk carriers and container ships). It is known widely as the "Fundy City" because of its location on the north shore of Bay of Fundy, at the mouth of St John River. The city has population around 70,000 (metro over 128,000).
Prior to the opening of Saint Lawrence Seaway (1959), Port St John functioned as winter cargo port for Montreal when shipping was unable due to ice in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and St Lawrence River. In 1889, the Canadian Pacific Railway Company opened a train line from Montreal to St John across Maine (USA) and the majority of its Transatlantic shipping (passenger and cargo) operations were transferred to port St John during winter months. The port fell into decline after the seaway opening (officially in 1959) and the beginning of year-round icebreaker ship support services in the 1960s.
As the current-day city moves away from its industrial past, it develops new economies - and especially cruise shipping tourism, with 1,5+ million visitors (plus 200,000+ cruise tourists) annually. The fast-growing cruise industry supports many small businesses locally, as well as large waterfront development projects - like the real estate sites Fundy Quay (hotel-office-condo space) and Harbourfront Residences (condos at Three Sisters Inc).
Port Saint John is ranked Canada's 3rd largest by cargo tonnage. Its main businesses are bulk cargoes (dry-liquid-break), TEU-containers (via boxships) and cruise passenger shipping.
St John NB has a long shipbuilding history at city's drydock (one of the world's largest). Until the first decade of the 21st century, the largest shipyard in Canada, Irving Shipbuilding, was an important employer. During the 1980s-1990s the shipyard built for the Canadian Navy 9 of 12 Halifax-class multi-purpose patrol frigates. However, it failed to buckle to Union pressure and stopped production.
Cruising season runs from April through November. Port's cruise business contributes ~USD 50 million annually to NB's economy (FY2016 economic impact study data). Of the total impact, USD 21,5 million was direct spending (by cruise companies on services, and passengers-crew ashore) and USD 12,5 million in personal income. The cruise port generated and supported 298 direct local jobs.
In 2016, the cruise port handled a total of 63 ship calls and 143,926 passengers plus 59,003 crew. The total impact to the NB's economy was USD 41,5 million.
During season 2017, the port had scheduled a total 64 ship calls and handled 208,818 cruise tourists, (147,736 passengers plus 61,082 crew). This was an increase of 3% (over 2016) and USD 49,9 million impact to the New Brunswick's economy (20% increase over 2016). The total impact included USD 21,5 million (direct spending) and USD 12,5 million (personal income), plus 298 direct jobs. In 2017, the port had 12 double cruise ship days (Sept 5, 12, 13, 19, 20, 21, 26, Oct 5, 10, 16, 18, 19), 4 triple (Sept 27, Oct 4, 11, 17), 2 maiden port calls (RCI's Vision of the Seas and TUI's Mein Schiff 6) and 2 Disney Magic visits (Sept 30, Oct 4). One of the world's largest passenger ships - Anthem of the Seas (port's largest vessel to date) had 4 scheduled visits (Sept 5, 19, Oct 5, 19).
In 2018 (celebrating its 30th cruise season) Port St John NB's schedule (May 1 through November 2) included a total of 75 ship calls with approx 176,000 passengers plus 70,000 crew. This represented 19% increase (passengers) and 13% (ship calls) over 2017. Season 2018's highlights were 14 double-ship days, 2 triple-ship days, 5 maiden port calls (Asuka 2, Hebridean Sky, Adventure of the Seas, AIDAvita, Norwegian Escape) and 5 new to the port cruise lines (AIDA, Noble Caledonia, Pearl Seas Cruises, NYK Cruises Japan).
In 2020, the cruise port announced a record season with 92 ship calls (15 different cruise companies) and estimated ~200,000 tourists (pax+crew). Port's schedule includes 8 triple ship days, 8 double ship days and 11 maiden port calls. In 2020 is planned the opening of Fort La Tour National Historic Site of Canada (an archaeological site with the remains of a fortified fur-trading post from the 17th-century).
Saint John NB cruise terminal
In August 2015 was announced that Port St John NB will start dredging / deepening of the harbour. The 7-year project (scheduled completion in 2022) was funded with USD 205 million and included major works at West Side's cargo ship facilities and piers, as well as dredging of the port's main navigation channel.
- The main channel was deepened with 1.6 m (to 10 m / 33 ft), which allowed access and docking of larger-sized cruise ships.
- The deeper channel also ensures the port's ability to accommodate cruise vessels during both low and high tides. No longer reliant on tides, cruise companies now can lengthen their ships' port times.
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