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Holland America's Zaandam cruise ship in Saint John on July 24, 2023. Image: Brad Perry

Cruise numbers continue to rebound in Saint John

By Brad Perry Nov 15, 2023 | 12:03 PM

Port Saint John has wrapped up what it describes as another strong year for cruise ships.

A total of 74 cruise ship visits brought more than 172,000 passengers this season, which ended Nov. 7.

Natalie Allaby, director of cruise excellence for Port Saint John, said that is up 16 per cent compared to last year.

“Last year at this time, we were really thrilled that our comeback year after the COVID pause had such strong results,” Allaby said in an interview.

“To have that 16 per cent boost again at the end of this season is really just a testament to the strong return of cruise tourism.”

This season saw the largest single ship day in the port’s history with Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas bringing 5,931 passengers to Saint John on May 30.

Allaby said that is similar to what the city would normally see on a double-ship day.

Saint John also celebrated nine inaugural visits this year, which is higher than the five to seven it usually sees.

“Inaugural calls mean that the cruise lines are choosing to deploy new ships, different ships, larger ships to our region,” said Allaby.

“It’s always a strong indication for us when we get that many inaugural calls that they really believe in our destination and they want to send their big, new and shiny ships to the region.”

Port Saint John was also a top-three finalist for Seatrade Cruise Awards’ Cruise Port of the Year for its Welcome Crew program, dedicated cruise ship Crew Lounge, and ARAE 506 Waterfront Container Village.

Allaby said her team is putting the finishing touches on the preliminary 2024 cruise schedule, which will be released in January.

“Next year’s looking like a very robust season. I’d say similar in scope and size to 2023 with the number of ships and the size of the ships that are coming in,” she said.

Port Saint John also expects another long season similar to this year, which saw the first cruise ship arrive in early May.