It is not often that particular areas of the world come up with new cruise ports that have not already been exploited but indeed it does happen. Just as in the more temporate climes of Mexico and Roatan, new cruise ports are beginning to open up in the moderate Gulf of St Lawrence, which is really a summer destination only.
So what are these ports that are beginning to attract lines such as Carnival, Costa and MSC, all newcomers to the area, which has always relied on Montreal and Québec for turnarounds?
Here is a whirlwind tour.
The City of Saguenay
The new City of Saguenay, which is selling itself under the same name as the well-known fjord and tributary of the St Lawrence River, is actually an agglomeration of the municipalities of Chicoutimi, the area’s largest city and once the shallow-draught terminal of a weekly cruise operated by Canada Steamship Lines until 1965, the deeper port of Bagotville, where Canada Steamship Lines overnighted steamers from Montreal, Québec, Murray Bay and Tadoussac used to turn around, and Port Alfred, a larger pulp and paper and aluminium port. To-day, the whole area is known as Saguenay.
Saguenay’s new cruise port, a development of the old Bagotville wharf, attracted 28,000 visitors in 2009 and was this year’s venue for the annual Canada New England Cruise Symposium this June.
Baie Comeau is a relatively new place as from beginnings in 1937 when the Québec North Shore Paper Company opened a pulp and paper mill there to supply the Chicago Tribune and the New York News, it grew in the 1950s to include an aluminium smelter and a grain elevator. It was also the birthplace of one of Canada’s 20th Century prime ministers.
But this year, Baie Comeau is benefitting from a new $26 million Glacier Exploration Centre opened in a converted church this June. Carnival Cruise Lines are expected to make five calls on Baie Comeau in 2010 with Carnival Glory. Baie Comeau has already had a number of calls from Holland America Line and Fred.Olsen Cruises.
Although in existence since the French regime, and a base for the Hudson’s Bay Company (founded in 1670), a sometime whaling station and a base for fur traders as well, Sept-Iles did not get its real start until 1954, when it became an iron ore loading port for the Iron Ore Company of Canada. Sept-Iles and nearby Clarke City also featured, however, as a major port of call for mailboats operating from Montreal.
To-day, a new wharf has been opened in town that allows cruise passengers to board a train to visit the Innu summer camp on the Moisie River, long known as a gathering place for salmon fishing. The Sept Iles have long had a railway connection, from 1906 from the bay to a pulp mill at Clarke City, and from the 1950s by the Québec North Shore and Labrador Railway and the Arnaud Railway to Labrador.
Holland America Line has been one of Sept-Iles’ first major cruise line customers.
Havre St Pierre
Like Sept-Iles, Havre St Pierre is expected to gain from new calls by Carnival Cruise Lines in 2010. Once a port of call for regular cruises, nearby is a cabin said to have been built by who later became Lord Strathcona, who at that time was a Hudson’s Bay Company factor.
Now, the port, which has not seen regular cruise ship visits since the 1930s, has opened up as an ilmenite shipping port but is again is trying to attract cruise lines to make a call on its naturally protected harbour and visit the nearby Mingan Islands.
Unlike Baie Comeau, Sept Iles and Havre St Pierre, which are newer ports developed in the 20th Century, Gaspé has been around for centuries, and was first industrialized by fishermen from important Jersey firms such as Robin, Collas & Company. Starting in about the 1920s it became more of a tourist haven and benefited from weekly sailings from Montreal and Québec by large steamers, one of which cruised from Miami in the winter time.
A cruise destination for the Québec Steamship Company, Furness Bermuda Line, Clarke Steamship Company, Royal Viking Line, Baltic (March Shipping) and Yachts of Seabourne, Gaspé and the nearby rock of Percé are once again opening up to cruise ship visitations. Nearby is also the famous bird colony of Bonaventure Island.
Not a new port, but certainly one of the big gainers, earlier this month, history was made at the Port of Québec as more than 13,000 cruise passengers embarked or disembarked in one 48-hour period. Three ships, Crown Princess, Norwegian Spirit and Costa Atlantica, also made inaugural calls.
Princess Cruises, Costa Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Line are among the lines that now make the city their point of departure and arrival since the new larger ships are too tall to get under the Québec Bridge to Montreal.
The port now features three cruise ship terminals, Pointe-à-Carcy, the newest cruise terminal, Anse au Foulon, formerly known as Wolfe’s Cove, the turnaround for Canadian Pacific’s once-giant Empress of Britain of 1931, one of the first of the giants unable to make it to Montreal, and home later for Queen Elizabeth 2 until the construction of the new town terminal where RMS Queen Mary 2 and other ships berth.
This month also saw the first visit of Cunard’s Queen Victoria, which tied up at the nearby Canadian Coast Guard Pier, where icebreakers and buoy tenders are usually berthed, for an overnight stay. This month also saw Holland America Line’s Maasdam, the city’s most frequent cruise visitor, make her 100th call. Maasdam has now brought 129,000 passengers to Québec.
(Source: By Mark Tré – Cybercruises.com)