Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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Regional ports included in 2015 cruise itinerary - Mar. 19, 2014


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The Grande Caribe, a small cruise ship with the capacity to disembark at small ports, is one of two similar vessels slated to return to the Bay of Fundy region next year.

Barb Rayner
Saint Andrews
Stops in Saint Andrews, Grand Manan and Campobello will be on the itinerary when Blount Small Ship Adventures begins operating a Bay of Fundy cruise out of Saint John next summer.
There may be as many as eight visits to Saint Andrews next summer, stated Mayor Stan Choptiany, who called it “exciting news.”
“When there is as many as eight in a season, you can organize and plan so much better than when it is only one or two. It is fantastic for us.
“I know they (Blount) came last year twice and there was some discussion that they would this summer but the larger organization is for next year. Either way, it is great news.”
Saint Andrews does benefit from the bus traffic which is generated from cruise ships which visit Saint John, said Choptiany, but the visitors can only stay for a short period of time.
“The traffic we get from the cruise ships is excellent but it is for such a short period of time and it is so weather dependant it is hard to rely on.
“They don’t get down here until 10 a.m. and are back on the bus by 11:30 a.m. so it is not as big an economic boost because Blount usually comes for one night and sometimes two.
“When they are actually in the port, it means they can have supper with us, they can go to the (Kingsbrae) gardens, go to the Huntsman (aquarium) and also tend to buy things which they can bring back to the boat whereas people who come by bus don’t tend to buy the same way.”
Choptiany said that with these longer stays in the town, there is the opportunity for the passengers to interact with the local residents. Last year he and his wife picked up a couple from the boat, because one of them had difficulty walking, and gave them a tour of the town by car.
“It is interesting to meet new people. With small cruises like that, when you have personal contact, they come back and they will make the effort to drive here later.”
With the boat docked in Saint Andrews, passengers have a chance to do some hiking or take a trip to somewhere like St. George to tour Granite Town Farms.
CAO Tim Henderson called the announcement a boost for the whole county and it is hoped to attract more cruise lines to the region.
“Now we have to make sure we build excursion packages for the guests and Blount will hopefully be one of many (cruise lines) that will make Saint John a home port,” said Henderson.
“I have had meetings with Eastport and Cruise Maine because we want to build even more packages and they will be part of this too.”
During the summer of 2012 there were five cruise ship visits to Saint Andrews, including three vessels from the Blount line, but only a couple visited last summer although there were the bus loads of cruise ship passengers coming to the town from Saint John.
The province has announced a three-year investment to help Saint John to become a home port for the cruise ships following a feasibility study which found the port was well-suited to become a home port for expedition-class ships.
Blount’s services and line of ships fits well within the expedition-class of vessels, carrying 98 passengers on seven to 16-day tours focussed on unique destinations, educational opportunities and adventure.
The Blount line will be the first to offer cruises where passengers start or finish their journey in New Brunswick.

barb@stcroixcourier.ca