Victoria Harbour (BC Canada) cruise port is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island in the Canadian province British Columbia. This is the most visited port of call on "Alaskan Canada" cruise itineraries. Near the cruise terminal is located the ship repair facility Esquimalt Graving Dock. Its drydock is capable of handling Panamax-size vessels and is among the largest on North America's west coast.
Victoria BC is approx 100 km (60 mi) from Vancouver BC (mainland Canada), approx 100 km (60 mi) from Seattle WA (mainland USA) and approx 40 km (25 mi) from Port Angeles WA (by ferry across Juan de Fuca Strait). The city is accessible by airplane (year-round), cruise ships (seasonally) and ferries - including the Victoria Clipper ferry (regularly scheduled daily service Victoria-Seattle the whole year-round).
Besides Victoria BC, Alaska-based liners to Vancouver Island may also stop at Port Hardy (on island's northeastern coast). Port Hardy (population around 4,000) has a natural resources-based economy as being the gateway to Vancouver Island's best places for a travel vacation - Cape Scott Provincial Park, BC Marine Trail and North Coast Trail. All are located on the island's northernmost tip. The town provides access to popular wilderness vacation experiences and activities, such as kayaking, rafting, caving, scuba diving, surfing, nature camping. Ferries from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert (on Kaien Island) depart every day during the summer's peak season.
Port Victoria BC
Port's cruising season runs from April through October. Cruise shipping operations started in 1978. The seaport is managed by "Greater Victoria Harbour Authority" (GVHA). Cruise port's contribution to the local economy is estimated at ~USD 130 million.
In 2014, the cruise port handled 210 ship calls and over 454,000 passengers. In 2016 were handled 224 ship calls. In 2017 were handled 239 ship calls (record year) with 600,000 passengers plus 239,000 crew. In 2018, the cruise port handled 243 ship calls and ~640,000 passengers plus ~260,000 crew.
In June 2017, the port welcomed its 7 millionth cruise ship tourist (since 1978), who arrived on Explorer of the Seas (RCI-Royal Caribbean). At the end of season 2017, the port started to provide ground transportation (cruise terminal bus service) via joint-venture with the local companies "CVS Tours" and "The Wilsons Group".
For season 2018, Port Victoria BC was upgraded with an extended mooring dolphin allowing berthing for the ever-largest Alaska-based cruise liner Norwegian Bliss (NCL). The vessel (max capacity 5200 passengers plus 1730 crew) was scheduled for an inaugural visit to Victoria BC on June 8, 2018. In 2018, the cruise port handled 250 ship calls, with nearly 640,000 passengers plus 230,000 crew.
In 2018, GreenPower Motor Company (Vancouver Canada-based manufacturer) sold two electric double-decker buses (model EV550) to the local CVS Tours company.
- The new buses are primarily used for cruise passenger transportation from and to Ogden Point terminal. The 5-year lease-purchase program was specifically designed for CVS Tours. In 2018, port's bus shuttle service (between the terminal and downtown) was upgraded with new and quieter buses via partnership between GVHA, The Wilson's Group of Companies (Vancouver Island-based) and CVS Tours (sightseeing tour company based in Victoria BC).
- The new bus deal resulted in forming a new joint venture company ("Pacific Northwest Transportation Services" / abbrev PNWTS) between Wilson’s and CVS Tours. The investment in new tour buses also consolidated companies' tour services offered from Ogden Point cruise terminal, The port authority signed an exclusive 10-year terminal access contract to PNWTS to provide cruise bus shuttle services on the terminal, as well as to supply all shore excursion buses.
Victoria BC cruise schedule has listed vessels from major Alaskan-based fleets, including Holland America, NCL-Norwegian, Disney, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity, as well as the luxury brands RSSC-Regent, Oceania, Crystal, Seabourn, Ponant. Their ships usually stop in Victoria on relocation cruise itineraries (to and from Alaska). According to CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association), after Europe, Alaska is currently the world's second-leading cruise ship travel destination (excluding Asia).
On October 1, 2018, started works on the Ogden Point Cruise Terminal berth extension project to allow docking of Royal Caribbean's Quantum-Class liners (GT 200,000 tons, LOA length 348 m, max capacity 4800 passengers plus 1300 crew). The USD 6,8 million budgeted project was scheduled for completion by May 12, 2019, when Ovation of the Seas started its 2019 Alaskan program from homeport Seattle WA with 7-day roundtrips to Juneau, Skagway and Victoria BC. By this project was extended port's existing cruise berth (by 55 m / 180 ft) and were added concrete bollard platforms and 2 breasting dolphins (fixed on each side of the extended pier). This structure assists in berthing (takes up some loads), also keeps the ship from pressing against the dock and serves as mooring point (restricting vessel's longitudinal movement). For the construction works was contracted Ruskin Construction Ltd.
In early-February 2019, was reported that Ogden Point Terminal's expansion project was impacted as the mooring dolphin's piles were lost at sea. The China-made steel structures were built for Pier B's 58-m extension. Construction works were scheduled to start in May but were re-scheduled for September. Still, the project will be completed in time for season 2020.
In April 2019, GVHA (Harbour Authority) and NCLH (Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd) signed a 12-year guaranteed berthing agreement (to 2030). The deal provided NCL with a guaranteed berth (during port calls) at Victoria Cruise Terminal's Pier A South.
In October 2019, over environmental concerns, Victoria BC's city council approved a motion to limit the number of visiting cruise vessels. In 10 years (2010-2019) the cruise shipping traffic increased from 212 ship visits (~440,000 passengers) to 265 calls (~1 million passengers plus crew). This industry generates ~USD 130 million annually.
For season 2019 (April 16 - October 25), the cruise port handled 257 ship calls (from scheduled 264) and 709,042 passengers (plus 294,956 crew). For maiden visits were booked the liners Ovation of the Seas (RCI), Queen Elizabeth (Cunard) and Azamara Quest (Azamara). In June-October 2019, NCL repositioned Norwegian Joy (sistership of Norwegian Bliss) homeporting it in Seattle for weekly calls at Victoria BC (scheduled for Saturdays). On May 17, 2019, at Ogden Point was welcomed cruise port's 8-millionth passenger. Meghan Lorenzon (from Davenport FL USA) was travelling together with her husband (Brent Petkus) on their honeymoon cruise on NCL Joy ship.
For season 2020 (April 3 through October 21) the cruise port has 284 booked berthings (ship calls) by 12 companies, with estimated ~770,000 passengers. For season 2019 was planned to be completed the lengthening of Pier B (via a mooring dolphin) to allow berthing for world's largest cruise vessels (RCI's Oasis-class, GT 225K tons). With a year delay, the project was completed in April 2020. Pier B's extension was delayed after in December 2018 was lost at sea the custom-fabricated (in China) steel for the dolphin's construction. Construction works included placing into the seabed (dockside) 2x steel monopiles (combined length 291 m / 955 ft) and 2x concrete platforms with reinforcement caps.
Victoria BC cruise terminal
Victoria BC cruise port terminal is located at Ogden Point (distance to downtown approx 1,5 mi / 2,5 km). Victoria International Airport is approx 18 mi (29 km) from the cruise terminal.
Port Ogden Point has 2 cruise ship docking piers – "Pier A" and "Pier B". Each dock has 2 deep-water berths (with excellent approach and mooring) and its own Customs and Immigration. Currently, Ogden Point has capacity to accommodate 3 ships simultaneously. However, each year there are several 4-ship and even 5-ship days, usually arriving within 1 hour of each other.
Since 2020, at Pier B can dock world's largest passenger ships (RCI's Oasis-class). The expanded dock allows berthing for vessels with max LOA length 350 m (1148 ft) and GT 225,000 tons.
Passenger terminal's facilities include paved car parking, cargo storage areas, passenger gangways (embarkation/disembarkation ship-to-shore bridges), garbage disposal, baggage handling facility, freshwater, phones. At the cruise terminal's dockside, there are exchange bureaus and gift shops. Available are taxis and shuttle bus services to downtown. The distance is very walkable. Available for rent are bicycles. passengers can also use pedicabs and rickshaws, and even horse-drawn carriages.
In 2017, GVHA (Greater Victoria Harbour Authority) started planning minor cruise port upgrades to make Victoria BC a turnaround destination (homeport) for smaller-sized Alaskan ships departing on roundtrip itineraries.
- Ogden Point cruise terminal (where vessels dock) would need minimal upgrades to become a homeport (by the year 2020). Port's statistics show that cruise tourism spending ashore (on hotels, restaurants, bars, etc) brings to city's economy between USD 40,000 and USD 2 million per ship (depending on vessel's size/capacity).
- The draft plan for the port redevelopment project included building new commercial and retail facilities along Dallas Road (35-hectare sized property) and construction of a dedicated cruise terminal with an underneath parking garage (for tour buses). By the project will be built the First Nations (cultural and retail shopping complex), heliport, boat launch facilities, possible hotel (near breakwater's head).
On October 1, 2018, started works on the Ogden Point Cruise Terminal berth extension project to allow docking of Royal Caribbean's Quantum-Class liners (GT 200,000 tons, LOA length 348 m, max capacity 4800 passengers plus 1300 crew). The USD 6,8 million project was scheduled for completion in May 2019, but postponed for November. By this project was extended cruise port's existing berth (by 55 m / 180 ft) and were added concrete bollard platforms and 2 breasting dolphins (fixed on each side of the extended pier).
Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal
Swartz Bay is a terminal in North Saanich BC, serving BC FERRIES (Canadian state-owned passenger ferries). The terminal facility covers an area of 12 hectares (30 acres) and is located approx 32 km (20 mi) north of Victoria Harbour. The terminal is also part of British Columbia Highway 17. This is a 2-highway system - one on Vancouver Island, and one on mainland Canada. Both are connected by daily-scheduled ferry links.
Currently, the ferry terminal has 5 berths. In 2006 was inaugurated "Berth 2" (floating dock, project cost CAD 25 million). The terminal facility consists of administration building, main building (with cafeteria and coffee shop), several kiosks (rented by local artisans and vendors), pay parking.
Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal provides daily service to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal (mainland British Columbia), and also connects Vancouver Island to all major Southern Gulf Islands (Salt Spring, Mayne, Pender, Galiano Island).
The ferry terminal is connected to several public transit routes. Route 70 is an express bus service (1-hour drive) linking with downtown Victoria BC. Swartz Bay and Victoria BC are also connected via Lochside Regional Trail (length 29 km / 18 mi). The terminal is approx 10 min drive from Victoria International Airport.
Victoria BC tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Inner Harbour: the central harbor area. It is major attraction in the city. The area is surrounded by beautiful historical buildings – the Empress Hotel and the Legislative Buildings. There are many small streets leading from the Inner Harbour, where you can buy Canadian art and souvenirs.
- Royal British Columbia Museum: it is the area of the Inner Harbour. You can explore the history of the people in British Columbia, their live and heritage. The gallery displays also temporary exhibitions.
- National Geographic IMAX Theatre: centrally located, has 400 seats.
- Butchart Gardens: Canadian National Historic Site located in Greater Victoria.
- Pacific Undersea Gardens: located in the Inner Harbour area. The Undersea Theater shows Live Dive Show where you can see the sea bottom.
- Carriage Tours: Tally-Ho Carriage Tours – Horse Drawn Carriage Tours offer the most relaxing way to see Victoria in unique way. They operate since 1903 and offer guided tours of the city.
- Downtown Victoria Ambassadors: dedicated volunteers that will help you anytime, anywhere in the city. The team serves the tourists for 15 years.
- Craigdarroch Castle: inside you will find stunning collections of woodwork, stained glass and furnishings from the Victorian era. If you want to take an amazing view of Victoria, climb the 80 stairs to reach the castle’s tower.
- Cruise Industry
GVHA-Greater Victoria Harbour Authority achieves higher environmental ranking for Victoria Cruise...
The not-for-profit GVHA (Greater Victoria Harbour Authority) achieved a ranking of 3.7 out of 5 by Green Marine, which is an increase over their...September 6, 2020
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One popular cruise destination is questioning whether its port would open at all in 2021. Unfortunately, because the cruise port is the one located...August 25, 2020
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The Canadian state-owned passenger shipping company BC Ferries announced it is preparing for an increase in passenger traffic by adding 120 more...June 24, 2020
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Cruise ship tourists will not be allowed to disembark if vessels arrive at the British Columbia ports this summer, the province's health officials...May 13, 2020
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A drastic fall in demand for ferry travel on BC Ferries resulted in service schedule changes on local routes. The Canadian state-owned company BC...April 4, 2020
Fears of how the coronavirus (COVID-19) will impact Vancouver Island continues. However, it could have a positive impact on the tourism industry...February 29, 2020
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The first hybrid electrical vessels of BC Ferries officially entered the waters of the Pacific and will be arriving to Victoria BC in January. ...December 29, 2019
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Holland America’s liner ms Noordam recently departed from Canada for Australia after a scheduled 14-day drydock refurbishment at Victoria...December 15, 2019
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With the 2019 cruise season now complete, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) is preparing for the arrival of steel to build a 58-meter...October 31, 2019
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Victoria BC city council approved a controversial motion in an attempt to limit the number of cruise ships coming into the port over environmental...October 21, 2019
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