2008 promises to be one of the busiest years in international cruising on the Saint-Lawrence, but even more is in store for 2009! Following the route discovered by Viking explorers, the Basque fishermen, and 400 years ago, French explorer Samuel de Champlain, the biggest international cruise lines are heading for our magnificent river to share the experience with tens of thousands of passengers of all origins. In 2008, 13 cruise lines and 18 different vessels will visit one or another of the ports-of-call on the Saint-Lawrence. Cruise the Saint-Lawrence (SLCA) is anticipating record traffic particularly in September and October when several ships will stop simultaneously in Montréal, Québec City, and Saguenay. An impressive total of five ships will be docked at Québec City all on September 16.
Among the upcoming innovations: the presence of the Canadian Sailing Expeditions which, starting in June, will offer several itineraries on a sailing vessel that can accommodate close to 100 passengers. It will stop at the ports of call of Québec City, Saguenay, Baie-Comeau, Havre-Saint-Pierre, Gaspé et les Îles de la Madeleine. The ship Royal Princess, operated by Princess Cruises, will board and disembark its 700 passengers in Montréal, as will the AIDAaura, which belongs to AIDA Cruises, a German line, which is coming for the first time. Also upcoming is the September visit of the Eurodam, the new ship in the Holland America fleet, to Québec City and Saguenay. Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas, with its 3,100 passengers, will be the biggest vessel to navigate the waters of the Saint-Lawrence in 2008.
The Saint-Lawrence destination is attracting the interest of an increasing number of international cruise companies that are closely watching the current developments. In 2008, the completion of major projects such as the modernization of the Aéroport international Jean-Lesage in Québec City, the inauguration of Quai de Bagotville in Saguenay, which is entirely dedicated to cruise ships, the opening of the Centre d'expérience glaciaire in Baie-Comeau, and the termination of dredging and renovations at port d'Havre-Saint-Pierre will also serve to improve the global supply offered to the international cruise industry.
SLCA forecasts for 2009 are even more impressive than those for 2008, with the arrival of new ships that will make several stops at ports that are under development, such as Trois-Rivières, Baie-Comeau, Saguenay, Sept-Îles, Havre-Saint-Pierre, Gaspé, and Îles de la Madeleine. Furthermore, in Québec City and Montréal, the number of passengers to board and to disembark will substantially increase, thereby generating pre- and post- cruise stops as well as air transits. This will benefit airports and tourist services in general.
Today, Cruise the Saint-Lawrence launched its band new Website at www.cruisesaintlawrence.com. The SLCA, which comprises 9 ports of call has 25 members as well as several major partners including the ministère du Tourisme, Transports Québec, and the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Québec.
René Trépanier, Director General