Victoria’s cruise season off to rough start due to ship cancellations

Many in Victoria hoped for smooth sailings for the return of cruise this year, but the season has gotten off to a rough start.

In one of the latest cancellations, the Ruby Princess canceled its trip to Victoria on Thursday due to mechanical issues, according to Ian Robertson, CEO, Greater Victoria Harbor Authority.

“There are all kinds of factors that are resulting in some cancellations, and as I said, some ships coming in later than usual,” Robertson said.

But after two years of inaction, it’s rough seas for many of the ships.

The Ruby Princess is undergoing repairs, delayed in Seattle, instead of sailing its regular route to Alaska and Victoria.

The missing ships are felt by the local tourism industry.

At Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf, pedicab driver Melaina Pearson is drumming up business by chatting up tourists walking by.

Business is good, but she said the cancellations impact all pedicabbers.

“Some of us will stay home,” Pearson said. “We won’t come out if there is no cruise ship because there is less traffic on the downtown core.”

And it’s not just the ships that are not in shipshape.

Robertson said the shore-based support industry also struggled.

“We’ve had challenges just with moving, finding bus drivers to move the passengers off the terminal,” Roberston said. “There is not the availability.”

Globally the cruise industry is adjusting to surging demand while trying to maintain the ships, according to Barry Penner, legal adviser, Cruise Lines International Association.

“I do expect things will improve as the season progresses,” Penner said. “A number of ships that are in our area, our region, have had to undergo additional maintenance. Some of that’s taken place now in the past few weeks. So I’m hoping that will allow the ships to resume operations in a more normal fashion.”

This year, 334 ships carrying 790,000 passengers were expected in Victoria, equaling the number in record-setting 2019.

And the industry is hoping to set sail on a smoother seas in the months ahead.

WATCH: First cruise ship in two years arrives in Victoria following pandemic pause

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