The Economic Impact of Cruise Ships in Thunder Bay

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Viking Octantis
Viking Octantis

Viking Octantis Set to Arrive on Friday in Thunder Bay

THUNDER BAY – BUSINESS – Thunder Bay will see the arrival of its first cruise ship, the Viking Octantis on Friday. This marks a significant post-Covid pandemic time for the city.

The Viking Octantis is will be here in Thunder Bay as the turnaround point on the cruise liners Great Lakes travels this summer. The eight day cruise on the Great Lakes will go from Milwaukee to Thunder Bay. Passengers will either start, or will end their cruise here in the city.

The Thunder Bay CEDC, City of Thunder Bay and Tourism Thunder Bay, are gearing up to welcome the Viking cruise ship Octantis at Pool 6 on May 27th, 2022, at 6 pm EST. The vessel will be in port until May 29th, 2022, at 5 am EST.
d in seeing it up close. Pool 6 is a federally regulated cruise facility, and access to the vessel will be limited to authorized personnel and guest only. If residents and tourism partners wish to view the ship in port, we ask that people park at Prince Arthur’s Landing and walk or choose another vantage point offsite, like Hillcrest Park. Parking will not be allowed along the road to Pool 6 and traffic control will be in place to reduce congestion while the vessel is in port. The Alexander Henry museum ship will be operational and accessible during the vessel stay. Residents are encouraged to visit the Henry and the Waterfront District shops while in the area as well.

The Great Lakes Explorer voyage is a luxury trip, with the fares ranging from $8,395 for a Nordic Balcony up to $22,095 for the Owner’s Suite.

Thunder Bay Manager of Tourism, Paul Pepe says, “Turnarounds have a broader economic impact on the vessel servicing side like food supply, vessel servicing etc but many guests are staying overnight at the beginning and end of their trips and developing the visitor experience to maximize benefit is an evolutionary process that’s part of this all”.

“The Viking’s arrival here supports ground transportation, accommodation, shore excursion contractors, customer service staff and guides, attractions, retail, food service suppliers, waste removal companies, stevedores, security firms, airlines and culinary to name a many but not all firms”.

Businesses in the Waterfront District are prepping for the arrival of the Viking Octantis.

“We will have information and staffed a concierge tent ship side to help those guests maximize their time in the city with ideas on things that interest them,” adds Pepe. “That’s one of the best ways to connect cruise visitors with the city”.

The other cruise impacts beyond the actual vessel visit are also important.

Putting a Positive Eye on Thunder Bay

“These vessels generate huge travel media impact and aligns Thunder Bay as a destination alongside Vikings global brand for high caliber experiences. This amplifies our earned media value on a global scale,” explained Pepe.

“Viking Octantis is widely reported by cruise and travel media as one of the top new ships to watch. And everyone in the cruising world is watching it. Deploying their submersibles at Silver Islet will bring enormous media awareness to the area and that is good for other travel segments too”.

Viking Octantis
Viking Octantis submersible

A third impact is that 6 out of 10 cruisers return to a destination they’ve been introduced to on a cruise according to Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA) data. This helps set the stage for future travel growth.

The capital investments being made in pool 6 have community and economic benefits beyond cruising and cruising has been a catalyst to clean up the property with trails being added this year to create more accessible open spaces for residents and visitors alike.

Like every port in the world that gets cruise ships, many businesses benefit but not every single one will see benefits. It’s not realistic to expect that every business will see benefit just like with any other tourism sector we invest in attracting. Not every business benefits from a sport or conference event either. Just because an individual business doesn’t benefit, that doesn’t nullify or dismiss the impacts and value for the community at all.

“Far from it. In some cases the businesses themselves aren’t set up to meet the needs of the cruise trade sector yet or meet the interests of the cruise clientele. Cruising is a long range strategy and we work closely with the lines to welcome them in and maximize local impacts. We also work with local businesses to get them ready for travel trade as well,” states Pepe. “Viking and American Queen have been wonderful companies to work with as this large complex tourism sector emerges quickly from Covid”.