In response to a demonstrated interest in winter cruising by international cruise industry organizers, Cruise the Saint Lawrence last week hosted a visit for three cruise company representatives seeking to experience first-hand the wonders of winter in ports of call across Québec. With smaller expedition vessels currently under construction at shipyards around the world, cruise lines are intent upon tapping into the growing pool of cruise aficionados with a penchant for off-season explorer tours.
Trends in travel point to a marked interest in cruise destinations such as the Arctic or Antarctic viewed as ripe with the promise of truly unique experiences. Adventure cruise enthusiasts indeed figure among those travellers who ascribe a certain exoticism to Québec’s brand of Nordic experience. Cruise the Saint Lawrence must therefore spearhead the drive to raise the profile of our myriad outdoor activities, our unique Nordic attributes and our vibrant urban centres with offerings such as out-of-the-ordinary ice fishing expeditions and sugaring off excursions.
During this second winter familiarization tour, participants travelled to Montréal, Trois-Rivières, Québec, Gaspé and Îles de la Madeleine. Representatives from each of the Saint Lawrence member ports of call gathered at Gaspé to present the specifics of their individual locations and meet with cruise company representatives. Tour activities included baby seal watching, dog sledding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, a visit to a cabane à sucre, and cultural discoveries in our urban ports of Québec, Trois-Rivières and Montréal.
Navigating the Saint Lawrence, Saguenay Fjord and Gulf of Saint Lawrence in winter can present challenges for cruise operators. Officials from Transport Canada, local port administrations, Canadian Coast Guard, Laurentian Pilotage Authority and other relevant authorities took part in an information session during which they detailed the technical requirements and services available to ensure ship and passenger safety.
Upon conclusion of the tour, guest cruise company representatives set about analysing and plotting possible cruise itineraries. Member ports of call and all organizations involved will naturally have to adapt offerings to take proper advantage of emerging opportunities.
Once again this year, event partner Chlorophylle, a Québec-based manufacturer of upmarket outdoor gear, outfitted tour participants.
Cruise the Saint Lawrence is a sectoral organization which groups together the nine ports of call located along the shores of the Saint Lawrence River. The mission of the organization is to grow cruise market activities in Québec and across Destination Canada New England through the provision of marketing and development services to members. Cruise the Saint Lawrence enjoys the support of partners Tourism Québec, Québec Tourism Industry Alliance and Industry, Science and Economic Development Canada.