Silver Shadow’s Unique Call on Prince Rupert
After a full week in Alaska, Silversea’s Silver Shadowglided into our first Canadian port of call since departing Vancouver last week.
Home to roughly 12,500 year-long residents, Prince Rupert was founded in 1910 by Grand Trunk Pacific Railway manager Charles Hayes, who envisioned the town as a major tourist destination and a port of call for steamships bound for Alaska and the Orient. Ironically, Hayes would end up perishing less than two years later as a passenger aboard the RMS Titanic, but his dream of seeing Prince Rupert mature as a port city has been realized over a century later.
Passenger ships never came in the magnitude Hayes envisioned, but the maritime shipping industry did. The deepest natural ice-free harbour in North America, Prince Rupert’s shipping terminals were expanded over the intervening decades.
Today, the Port is the closest large North American port to Asia by up to three sailing days. In fact, the Port is the lifeline of modern Prince Rupert. Last year, 23 million tonnes of cargo passed through the Port’s four industrial terminals. The demand for oceangoing transport is so high that the Port recently acquired a fourth Super Post-Panamax cargo crane, and is on-track for another record year of growth.
Cruise ships, though, have only been coming here for about a decade. In 2004, the Northland Cruise Terminal opened for business on the waterfront, complete with docking space for one large cruise ship of up to 300 metres in length, and Canada Customs & Border Protection officers to handle formalities for ships coming from Alaska.
There’s just one teensy, tiny problem: unlike the meteoric rise of cargo operations, cruise traffic here has largely dried up.
In the past decade, several mainstream cruise lines used to call regularly on Prince Rupert. At its height, the passenger terminal handled over 100,000 guests in a single season. But those days are gone – at least, for now. This year, just four ships will make a total of eight calls on Prince Rupert – meaning that Wrangell, Alaska – <a