Canada might not seem like the booming center of cruise ship traffic, but at least one region is expecting its longest and largest season to date.

Officials in Nova Scotia say their two cruise ports additionally will welcome 18 new ships making their inaugural visits to the Atlantic province.

Canadian port officials are forecasting record cruise calls in Halifax and Sydney when the 2024 cruise season weighs anchor in Nova Scotia. 

The Port of Sydney has 115 calls scheduled in 2024 beginning on April 7, 2024, with the arrival of MSC Poesia. During the summer months – the busiest season in Canada – a 17% increase in calls is expected compared with 2023.

Sydney will see seven ships make inaugural visits in 2024. The port, located on Cape Breton Island, receives regular visits by vessels from Oceania Cruises, MSC Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, and more.

Cruise Ship Docked in Halifax, Canada (Photo Credit: Harold Stiver)

“Cape Breton is an incredibly beautiful island destination and our reputation among cruise passengers is what continues to drive our success and ability to generate significant economic benefits for our communities,” said Lorna Campbell, CEO of Port of Sydney. 

The forecasted numbers for the Port of Halifax are even stronger. Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 will visit Halifax twice in 2024, including an overnight stay on Canada Day (July 1, 2024).

Overall, 203 cruise calls are expected, with 11 vessels making inaugural visits. During the summer months, traffic is forecast to increase 35.7% over 2023’s numbers.

“The 2024 season will run longer and see ship visits spread out across eight months,” said Captain Allan Gray, president and CEO of Halifax Port Authority. “We know Nova Scotia is a top-tier travel destination, and we look forward to sharing that with the visits to our shores this year.”

To accommodate the double-digit growth in traffic, the Port of Halifax is working on infrastructure improvements to allow tender operations so ships can bring passengers ashore on days when berths are full.

Queen Mary 2 at Port of Halifax (Photo Credit: Wandering views)

Among the cruise lines regularly visiting Halifax are MSC Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Viking Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Silversea Cruises.

Read Also: Halifax Celebrates Long History with Holland America Line

Queen Mary 2‘s visits to Halifax are part of several transatlantic crossings for the ship. The vessel pays her calls on July 1, 2024, and September 25, 2024. 

One 30-night crossing on Queen Mary 2 includes several other Canadian ports of call, including Sept-Iles, Saguenay, and Quebec City in Quebec, along with Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Canada’s growth in cruise traffic really shouldn’t come as a big surprise. The country has more than 900 harbors and ports across its coastline – the world’s largest at more than 151,000 miles.

Vancouver – often the start of many Alaskan cruises during the summer months – is the largest cruise port in Canada. More than 300 ships make scheduled stops at the Pacific port.

Cruise vacations in Canada continue to be one of the fastest-growing travel segments. Canadians took more than 21,000 cruise vacations in 2023, up 39% since 2019. 

U.S. residents took 271,900 cruise trips in Canada, and overseas residents took 32,300 cruise trips in 2023 – both impressive increases over 2019’s numbers.

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