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Port eyes bringing cruise ships to Dartmouth

By Scott Pettigrew Nov 15, 2022 | 6:29 PM

Officials at the Port of Halifax are in the early stages of talks to open cruise berths on the Dartmouth side of the Halifax Harbour.

Lane Farguson is the Port of Halifax’s director of communications and marketing. He explains that, as the port plans future expansions port officials are “exploring options” for additional cruise berths on the Dartmouth side of the harbour.

He stresses that those explorations are still in their very early stages but says officials are taking the prospect seriously.

“We’re still a long way from being able to say definitively that this will happen but certainly it’s something that we’re interested in,” he says. “We’re into the early discussions right now on just what that would look like [and] where it would be located.”

Farguson says it’s too early to name any specific locations because the port team is still talking to stakeholders.

“We’re still talking with all of the different players to figure out where would be the best place, what makes the most sense, and what’s going to complement that part of the city,” he says.

“It wouldn’t happen overnight and quite frankly funding is going to be a challenge as well,” he adds.

He says the port would have to find partners to help build a Dartmouth-side port and find funders to help pay for it.

However, if the Port ever did expand to the Dartmouth side of the harbour with cruise berths, Farguson says it could be “transformative.”

“You’d be able to create some really interesting waterfront activity that’s similar to what’s happened on the Halifax side,” he says.

Officials at the port are mulling Dartmouth-side berths as they report a 2022 cruise season that exceeded many people’s expectations.

This year, the port welcomed approximately 234,000 cruise passengers on 148 vessel calls. Fifteen of those ships called on the harbour for the first time.

In 2020 and 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic put a halt to all cruise ships entering the port. Since 2022 was the first time cruises were allowed into Halifax in two years, Port officials expected a “rebuilding year.”

In 2020, before the cruise season was cancelled, the port was planning for 208 ships carrying more than 350,000 tourists. At the start of the 2022 season, it predicted about 150 vessels would call this year.

“The part that we didn’t know was just how full are those vessels going to be,” Farguson says.

However, by the end of the year ships were getting close to full capacity again, leading to a strong cruise season overall.


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