Saint John is the largest city in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, and the second largest in the maritime provinces. Saint John, Canada’s oldest incorporated city, is also the only city on the beautiful Bay of Fundy.
Concerns by the St. John tourism industry are being raised in Saint John about a down in cruise ship traffic this summer and a further decline next year.
Canadian Port officials say there are a number of factors contributing to the decline, including tougher air pollution standards for the shipping industry.
The Carnival Glory has made nine stops in Saint John this year and is the only cruise ship to visit the city so far this season.
The ship is a regular caller to Maritime ports, but it’s not coming back to the region next year. The decision was made more than a year ago when cruise lines got a first look at new emission regulations.
“So, that caused the cruise lines to look at their itineraries and how they would conduct their operations,” says James Quinn, president and CEO of the Saint John Port Authority.
Since then, Quinn says Maritime ports have successfully lobbied the federal government for flexibility in meeting emission standards, and cruise lines are now being given options.
“In terms of emission controls, there’s different ways of doing it,” says Quinn. “You could go with strictly and only low sulphur fuel or you could go with new technology, like different approaches in scrubber technology.”
The new regulations will apply to all ships, not just cruise ships, and while it appears there will be a reduction in the number of cruise ship visits to Saint John because of the new regulations, the port says the impact will be minimal over the long term.
But businesses that cater to cruise ship passengers have been caught off guard by the decline in traffic.
“I have at least 16 people working for me on a day the Carnival Glory comes to port,” says business owner Terry Stevens. “If they’re not in port, I don’t need 16 people working for me.”
Stevens says the cruise lines should have been consulted and given more time to prepare for the new emission standards.
“They’re going to be here 23 times this year. That’s about 110,000 passengers. It’s ridiculous that we don’t work with these people,” he says.
Carnival is scheduling another ship to visit the Maritimes next year but the number of Saint John stops will be cut in half.
The Halifax Port Authority issued a statement Friday saying it too will miss the Carnival Glory’s visits to Atlantic Canada next year.
The port says it is continuing to work with Carnival and other cruise lines to minimize the impact of tougher emission standards in the years to come.