Photo courtesy @stevestonlife
Best known today as an active fishing harbour, Steveston could also soon be destined to become a port of call for small to medium cruise ships.
The $48M state-of-the-art expedition ship National Geographic Quest is carrying out what City of Richmond spokesperson Ted Townsend described as “kind of a test run” to see if Steveston fits the bill.
The 73-metre-long ship docked in Steveston on Thursday (Sept. 21) and is expected to return Oct. 5. Townsend confirmed there were passengers that disembarked upon arrival and boarded prior to departure last week.
“As I understand it, this was a shorter, re-positioning cruise that comes at the end of their summer season in Alaska,” he said. “In previous years, they had used Granville Island as their local port of call, but that location is no longer available to them, so they’re looking at Steveston as a possible ongoing destination.”
Townsend said such an opportunity is “certainly in keeping with the kind of long-term vision when the city developed the wharfs.”
Not only did the development of the wharfs, dating back to about 2011, allow for hosting special events like Ships to Shore and support other recreational opportunities on the water, but also could potentially help attract more tourists, he said.
“This is something that was always thought of as a potential use, and this is an opportunity to explore that further and hopefully create some ongoing new tourist traffic from the water,” Townsend said.
“Steveston is a popular tourist destination and in the cruise industry there are lots of different levels. It’s not all about huge boats going to Alaska,” he said. “There are smaller and mid-sized ships always looking for new experiences in this region for their clientele and it was always felt (Steveston) had the potential for that market. Now somebody is taking a closer look at the potential to see if the logistics are there.”
The National Geographic Quest is a purpose-built vessel, and one of the newest additions to the National Geographic-Lindblad Expeditions fleet. Built near Seattle, it is made for exploring coastal waters. It was designed to navigate narrow inlets and wildlife-rich passageways inaccessible to larger ships. The smaller ship still comfortably accommodates 100 guests in 50 outside cabins.
The National Geographic Quest brings travellers to B.C. and Alaska in the summer, before heading south in the winter to navigate the waters of Central America.
Started in 1999, National Geographic Expeditions operates hundreds of trips each year, spanning all seven continents and more than 80 destinations. As part of the National Geographic Travel group, it aims to fulfill the National Geographic Society’s mission to inspire people to care about the planet by providing meaningful opportunities to explore.