Nunavut aims to build on cruise ship market

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A “landmark year for cruise tourism development in Nunavut”—that’s how Monica Ell-Kanayuk, Nunavut’s minister of Economic Development and Transportation, views 2016.

About 4,600 cruise passengers visited Nunavut between July and September 2016—an increase of more than 1,000 from 2015, she said Nov. 1 in the Nunavut Legislature.

The Crystal Serenity cruise ship stops in Nome, Alaska on Sunday, August 21, 2016. The cruise ship is on its way across the Northwest Passage, the largest passenger ship to attempt the crossing. (Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News)
The Crystal Serenity cruise ship stops in Nome, Alaska on Sunday, August 21, 2016. (Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News)

The Crystal Serenity, with roughly 1,000 passengers on board, called in two Nunavut communities in 2016.

“The voyage resulted in a direct economic impact of $110,000 in Cambridge Bay and $35,000 in Pond Inlet,” Ell-Kanayuk said in her minister’s statement.

The Crystal Serenity’s voyage shows that cruise ships can have “a significant economic impact on the communities they visit,” she said.

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“When passengers visit a community they purchase carvings, prints and handmade crafts. They leave with a better understanding of Inuit culture,” she said.

“Nunavut’s cruise ship industry continues to grow, we must ensure that it brings long-term benefits for Nunavummiut. This effort will involve communities, government and the cruise industry itself.”

Meanwhile, the Crystal Cruises line which operates the Crystal Serenity said last week that it plans build three new ice-class “expedition mega-yachts.”

“The incredible demand for our 2016 Northwest Passage program was a revelation,” company said on its website.

The company had previously planned to build one new mega-yacht—the Crystal Endeavor—which, in 2018, is supposed to head through the Northwest Passage.

With a remote operated vehicle and underwater scooters, its 200 passengers will be able to see see “sunken galleons, warships and passenger ships”—such as the HMS Erebus and Terror near Gjoa Haven.

The Crystal Endeavor will offer “extreme adventures by air, sea and land,” says Crystal Cruises, “with a complete range of ‘toys’ which are not commonly found on today’s mega-yachts, including two helicopters and two landing pads for flight-seeing expeditions, as well as two, seven-person submarines, eight electric amphibious zodiacs, jet skis, wave runners, kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling and scuba equipment, recompression chamber, dive support tender and a multi-person ATV.”

In 2016, 11 cruise ships completed 25 voyages in Nunavut waters, with 59 planned community visits.

Ell-Kanayuk said her department is in its first year of implementing a management plan to help communities benefit from cruise ship visits.

The department is also working on new marine tourism regulations as part of the amendments to Nunavut’s tourism legislation.

“We are committed to ensuring that the cruise tourism sector is well-managed and properly regulated, and that it brings real economic opportunities for our communities,” Ell-Kanayuk said.

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