Holland America’s MV Statendam visits the Port Alberni Port Authority wharf during a 2009 visit to Port Alberni. NEWS FILE PHOTO

Holland America’s MV Statendam visits the Port Alberni Port Authority wharf during a 2009 visit to Port Alberni. NEWS FILE PHOTO

Port Alberni to host cruise ships again in 2019

Port Alberni last hosted a cruise ship in May 2013

The Port Alberni Port Authority (PAPA) and West Coast Agencies has announced the return of cruise ships to Port Alberni in 2019.

Currently, Holland America Line (HAL) is scheduled to return to Port Alberni May 25, June 15 and July 6 of 2019.

Port Alberni last hosted a cruise ship in May 2013, which was also a HAL vessel. While feedback from passengers, crew and the company itself was extremely positive about their experience with Port Alberni, market conditions did not allow for a return since then.

However, PAPA, in partnership with the City of Port Alberni, remained connected to the company and within the industry to keep the community known as welcoming and a great cruise destination.

Steve Hnatko, General Manager of Cruise Operations for West Coast Agencies said he sees great growth opportunity for the cruise business in Port Alberni. “Port Alberni’s experience hosting cruise ships and cruise passengers from other destinations, such as Nanaimo, is very well-known and highly regarded in the industry,” he said. “Passengers are once again seeking new destinations that offer a warm welcome and a unique, authentic experience. Port Alberni stands out as this type of destination.”

PAPA and the city have partnered in the past to work with the community to show off its heritage and culture to cruise passengers.

“We believe that, as a community, we continue to grow and evolve and we are looking at working with First Nations, Chamber of Commerce, local industry and marine enhancement groups, the Heritage Network, etc., to develop potential new shore excursions that can educate and entertain cruise passengers about what our community does very well,” said PAPA Director of Public Relations and Business Development, Dave McCormick.

The city’s economic development manager, Pat Deakin, emphasized that, “as partnering organizations and as a community, we have never given up on the cruise industry, as we steadfastly believe in the potential of the cruise ship industry in the Alberni Valley. We remained confident that we have a unique offer that is attractive to visitors. We continue to rise to the top of different desirable destination lists, such as the recent Best Places For Millennials To Visit. We look forward to working with the many different groups in the community to do what we do best – be the warm, welcoming hosts who create lasting, positive memories!”

Planning is currently in the early stages. More information will be shared as it becomes available.