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Cruise ship visits to Thunder Bay will rise to 17

The number of individual vessels and the total number of port calls this year will both set records for the modern cruising era.
The Viking Octantis is shown docked at Pool 6 during a visit to Thunder Bay in May 2023 (TBnewswatch photo)

THUNDER BAY — New records will be established for Thunder Bay's burgeoning cruise ship business this year.

Four different operators will bring five different vessels to the port a total of 17 times between early June and early October.

That's the largest number of individual ships and the largest number of port calls in Thunder Bay – three more than last year – in the modern cruising era.

It's seven fewer than Tourism Thunder Bay was initially hoping for last fall, when the Pool 6 dock was tentatively booked for 24 occasions this year.

But in an interview Tuesday, manager Paul Pepe explained that cruise operators often reserve docks while they are still building their itineraries around the world.

"As they finalize their itineraries, they remove some of those dock holds. So what we've seen is just a slight reduction."

Pepe noted that not only will 2024 be the busiest season on record, but five of the 17 ship stopovers will be turnarounds.

"We are actually seeing two more turnarounds than we had originally anticipated," he said.

Turnarounds are particularly important for the local economy because they typically mean hundreds of passengers disembark in Thunder Bay at the end of their journey, while hundreds more take flights to the city to board the same ship.

In addition, Thunder Bay suppliers are contracted to service and re-supply these vessels.

The first ship to tie up in the city this year will be Viking Cruises' Octantis, on June 5.

Its sister ship Polaris, Hapag-Lloyd's Hanseatic Inspiration, Ponant's Le Champlain, and Pearl Seas Cruises' Pearl Mist are the other cruise vessels scheduled to come this year.

Hanseatic Inspiration will close the season with a visit on Oct. 5.

Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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