After two years of suspended service due to COVID-related travel restrictions, Great Lakes cruises have returned to the Port of Toronto, and it promises to be the biggest year yet with 40 ships scheduled to call at the Port of Toronto Cruise Ship Terminal.
Earlier today, PortsToronto proudly welcomed the Viking Octantis on its inaugural visit to the Great Lakes.
“The return of cruise ship passengers to the Great Lakes will bring renewal and revitalization to our local tourism and travel sectors, hard-hit over the past two years. We are thrilled to welcome them back,” said Geoffrey Wilson, CEO, PortsToronto. “Between May and October, the Port of Toronto Cruise Ship Terminal will connect thousands of foodies, sightseers and enthusiasts of all kinds to Toronto to discover what we know to be one of the greatest cities in the world.”
“Great Lakes Cruise ships have become increasingly popular at the Port of Toronto over the last decade and we welcome the return of these large passenger vessels after a two-year break due to the pandemic,” said Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson. “These cruise ships bring passengers from as far away as South Africa and Europe to enjoy the restaurants, attractions and events of Toronto and are an important and growing element of our tourism offering, contributing more than $6 million annually. It’s wonderful to see these majestic ships back in our harbour with approximately 40 more on their way this summer and fall.”
“The return of Great Lakes cruising to the Port of Toronto is another important step in the recovery of our visitor economy,” said Andrew Weir, Executive Vice President, Destination Development at Destination Toronto. “Toronto is a waterfront city and cruising has been a growing market opportunity, attracting new visitors who typically add extra time in Toronto as part of their trip.”
With a capacity of 378 guests in 189 staterooms, the Viking Octantis® kicked off the 2022 cruise season that runs from May to October, and will sail five itineraries that stop in Toronto. The ship recently sailed the Atlantic Coastline to the Great Lakes following it first voyages to Antarctica, and will visit U.S. and Canadian destinations such as Fort Lauderdale, Charleston, New York, Lunenburg, Quebec City, Niagara Falls, Point Pelee and Thunder Bay. A second, identical sister ship, the Viking Polaris®, will join the fleet later in 2022 and sail the Great Lakes in 2023.
With Toronto as one of the key ports of call, passengers aboard this and other cruise ships remain in Toronto for one to three days and support the local economy by enjoying restaurants, attractions and shopping while in the city. In fact, a 2018 study estimated that cruise activity at Ontario ports could generate more than $6 million annually in revenue to sectors catering to vessels, passengers and crew.1