The Port Alberni Port Authority has ramped up as the first of three cruise ships is due to visit Alberni Harbour on Saturday, May 25.
The last time a cruise ship visited the harbour was in 2013, when Holland America’s MS Amsterdam anchored for a day. They used tenders to move passengers to and from the ship. When the MS Maasdam arrives, the process will be similar.
“They’re the same class (vessel) so about the same passengers and cruise size,” said PAPA’s director of public relations and business development David McCormick.
This cruise ship visit differs from others that have stopped in Port Alberni. Previous visits have been repositioning cruises in the off-season. This one is part of a 21-day Ultimate Alaska and Pacific Northwest Adventurer. The switch also explains why three cruise ship visits will take place in three months in Port Alberni.
Because the cruise will be on its way back to San Francisco, it will have already cleared customs in Vancouver or Victoria. “That helps streamline our operations,” PAPA director of operations Mike Carter said. A secure customs area will not have to be provided, he added.
A restricted area will still need to be fenced off at the end of Centennial Pier so members of the public won’t be able to access the end of the pier or the lower wharf. Two-thirds of the pier will still be open for people to come and watch the process of ferrying passengers, Carter said.
There will be a 50-metre “buffer zone” around the MS Maasdam at all times, as well as around the tenders. “We understand people want to get as close as possible for a unique photo or what have you but there will be a 50m perimeter,” McCormick said.
No other vessels, whether power boats or kayaks for example, will be permitted closer than 50 metres. There could be up to four tenders moving between the ship and pier.
“We need to give them a wide berth so they can keep their speed up and get passengers back and forth,” Carter said.
The wharf “fingers” will be restricted to use by the ship’s tenders only—no other moorage will be available at Centennial Pier while the cruise ship is in the harbour, Carter said.
Pacific Seaplanes, which usually tie up on the lower wharf, will instead have one or two of their seaplanes tied up at Tyee Landing and available for scenic tours for cruise ship passengers.
The public is also reminded that the port authority property and Alberni Harbour are “no drone zones”, especially when there will be planes flying in the area.
The harbour could be a busy place on Saturday, especially at Port Alberni Terminals. “We could very well have a ship in for forest products, so there would be some activity there,” Carter said. There won’t be any dockside conflicts though.
The ship is due to anchor at 8 a.m. in the harbour. China Creek Campground would be a good place to watch the ship enter and depart the harbour, McCormick said, because the Alberni Inlet narrows at that point. Anchors up is 5 p.m.
“This is the shipping world, anything can be delayed,” Carter cautioned. “But cruise ships are punctual with their times.”
The ship will head to Astoria, WA when it leaves Port Alberni.
The public is invited to visit Harbour Quay on Saturday, May 25 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to see the ship and participate in the cruise ship festival and craft fair that will be taking place around the quay. Subsequent festivals are also planned for June 15 and July 6.