Lekwungen dancers welcome first cruise ship of the season in Canadian waters

Lekwungen Dancers Welcome First Cruise Ship of the Season in Canadian Waters

LEKWUNGEN TERRITORY/VICTORIA BC, April 11, 2023The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) welcomed Sapphire Princess at the Breakwater District port today, marking the start of the cruise season in Canadian waters.

Songhees Nation representative Skip Dick granted permission to the ship’s crew and passengers to come ashore—a historical and cultural protocol of the Lekwungen People. Visiting tribes entering the harbour by canoe required the Chief’s permission before stepping onto Lekwungen territory. The Lekwungen welcome protocol was followed with a performance by Lekwungen dancers.

At just over 209 meters with room for 2,600 passengers, Sapphire Princess will berth at the Breakwater District port for 14 hours—a significant amount of time for cruise guests to visit the Region’s attractions, explore local shops and discover coastal cuisine. Cruise tourism benefits locals working in the tourism sector—including university students, young parents and entrepreneurs—and the working harbour and marine industrial jobs.

“The return of cruise passengers is a sure sign of our continued post-pandemic economic recovery. These visitors create significant economic impact across the Capital Region and The Chamber welcomes them back to enjoy all we have to offer on our beautiful Island in the Pacific,” said Bruce Williams, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

“In the 2022 Desire to Return Survey, 53 per cent of cruise passengers visiting Victoria indicated that they were likely to return to Victoria in the next five years. The economic contribution of cruise tourism benefits locals—our neighbours, friends and family—who work in the tourism and marine sectors,” said Christine Willow, board chair for GVHA.

With the start of the cruise season, GVHA acknowledges the necessary relationship between cruise tourism and sustainability. Cruise supports the visitor economy by contributing welcome dollars to small business owners and their staff. On the sustainability side, the GVHA is committed to partnering with the cruise industry to advance a green future that is good for the Region.

“We are thrilled to welcome Sapphire Princess and her passengers to beautiful Victoria to kick off the 2023 cruise season. The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is focused on sustainable port operations, supporting a positive experience for visitors, and working with partners to reduce local and regional impacts,” said Robert Lewis-Manning, CEO of GVHA. “The recent launch of GVHA’s shore power project is one of several initiatives aimed at reducing emissions in our region.”   

Last week, the British Columbia government announced a $9 million investment into the shore power project for the port at The Breakwater District. The shore-power connection would allow cruise ships to plug into the local electricity grid and turn their generators off while docked, reducing emissions and noise.

The GVHA projects 320 ship calls and 850,000 passengers this cruise season. While ship calls are slightly down from 2022 (329 calls), passenger numbers are up from 735,000 to 850,000 due to increased ship capacities.

Six cruise ships will make their inaugural call to Victoria this summer: Brilliance of the Seas, Carnival Luminosa, L’Austral, MS Insignia, Scenic Eclipse II and Ocean Victory.


About the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority
The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is a not-for-profit organization that is committed to the stewardship and sustainable growth of Victoria’s dynamic working harbour. The organization is governed by a 13-member Board of Directors, represented by four independent community members and eight Member Agencies: Esquimalt Nation, Songhees Nation, Capital Regional District, City of Victoria, Township of Esquimalt, The Chamber, Victoria Esquimalt Harbour Society and Destination Greater Victoria.

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority owns and operates several high-profile community amenities, including the Ogden Point Breakwater, Inner Harbour lower causeway, Ship Point and customs dock at Raymur Point. Within its commercial and marine industrial holdings are The Breakwater District at Ogden Point, Fisherman’s Wharf and four Inner Harbour marinas. The organization manages the Victoria Cruise Terminal at The Breakwater District, which contributes more than $143 million annually to the Greater Victoria economy and is responsible for 800 direct jobs.

Stella F. Garcia

Manager, Communications & Engagement GVHA

250.920.9057 I sgarcia@gvha.ca