April 2 - The return of the cruise ships

BC Ferries survey reveals top concerns, Emerson the seal returns, book with 35 best hiking spots.


Good morning !

Downtown Victoria is going to be a little busier this week, as the first cruise ship of the season is expected to dock tomorrow. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the cruise ships have been tied to millions of dollars in tourism revenue for the city.

For me, their arrival marks the start of warmer weather and I’m just happy for the reminder that summer is on its way.


Are you happy to see the cruise ships return?

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Today’s approx. read time: 5 minutes

🌡️ Weather Forecast

Today: 🌦️ 14 / 5

Tomorrow: 🌦️ 9 / 4

Thursday:  12 / 6


Cruise ship season returns to Ogden Point

Norwegian Bliss. Photo: Cruise Industry News

You know Victoria’s long, frigid, (I have to stop there, hahaha) winter is over, spring is here and summer is on the horizon when the big ships start coming to town.

The cruise ship season begins tomorrow when the huge Norwegian Bliss pulls into Ogden Point. The ship—more than three Canadian football fields in length—can accommodate 4,004 passengers and its 1,700 crewmembers, left San Francisco yesterday and is slated to arrive between 12:30 and 1pm.

As is customary, a First Nations welcoming ceremony will kick off the season as Chief Jerome Thomas of Xʷsepsəm Nation grants permission for passengers to come ashore and onto Lək̓ʷəŋən Traditional Territory.

En route to Vancouver, the Bliss will be the first of 315 ship calls this cruise season, and although unlikely to be full, it will carry the first of some 910K cruisers expected to step on our terra firma this spring, summer and fall. 

That’s a tad lower than last year’s banner season which brought some 970K visitors on 326 ship calls—three fewer ship calls than 2022 but busier ships that brought 26% more visitors, as the industry continues its speedy recovery from the pandemic.

Often polarizing, the industry has been a staple in the city’s tourism arsenal. While many voice concerns about its environmental footprint, its proponents point to people spending money in our burg.

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) says visitors spend an average of $86 when they stop by Victoria, adding approximately $45M to the local economy.

The GVHA says tourists spend on tours and transportation ($23.7M), retail goods ($14.6M), and food and beverages ($6.7M). Crewmembers, the GVHA says, spend on average $117, contributing $11.4M to the local economy.

⚠️ Capital Bulletin

Check out this map to see which roads are currently affected by construction.

Odour advisory at Mt. Work Park to continue until April 17 while maintenance is done on a nearby treatment facility.

Driving today? Check the current traffic situation via Google.


Reliability and affordability top concerns for BC Ferries passengers, says survey

Photo: Robyn Bell / Capital Daily

Approximately 10K people, including more than 500 BC Ferries workers, took the survey. Reliability was the biggest concern for 33% of them, followed by affordability at 30% and better integration with transit and active transportation at 17%.

The survey will guide BC Ferries in planning, with the company selecting five key areas of focus: pricing, transit integration, the role of coastal ferries in moving goods, service levels, and reducing emissions. While BC Ferries looks to replace aging vessels with hybrid options, critics say it's unlikely to meet its 2030 emissions targets.

In the past couple of years, BC Ferries has had to cancel sailings due to staffing issues and vessel problems. 

In 2022, Capital Daily reported on the lack of BC Ferries crewmembers and the effect of a global mariner shortage on the industry. According to a statement from BC Ferries, cancellations due to crew shortages dropped 37% in 2023, compared with the previous year when nearly half of all cancellations were crew-related. 

However, mechanical issues with the company's Coastal vessels caused several cancellations over the last year, with the Coastal Renaissance pulled from service for six months to undergo repairs. It returned two weeks ago and the Coastal Celebration is now undergoing similar repairs. The Coastal Inspiration will be pulled for the same reason sometime this month or next.

Pay raise for employees

Crew shortages were also tied to low wages, where BC Ferries was found to have fallen behind industry averages.

Last week, it was announced that employees would receive a one-year 7.75% raise, retroactive Oct. 2023. Licenced mariners could receive up to a 10% boost in pay, creating further incentives for these key crewmembers.

​​Nicolas Jimenez, president and CEO of BC Ferries, says the raise is one of the largest in the company’s history and one of the largest in Canada in “recent years.”


Jumpstart your community with a Neighbourhood Small Grant

Small but mighty grants are ready to support big, beautiful ideas for your community – opportunities to strengthen connections right where you live!

The Neighbourhood Small Grants (NSG) program offers up to $500 for people to lead a project in their neighbourhood, like a multicultural event, block party, community garden or skill-sharing workshop. 

For years, the NSG program has been celebrating local by supporting projects in Quadra Village, North Park, Burnside-Gorge, and Oaklands. Residents of the capital region outside these areas can also apply because support may be available for their innovative projects.  

Where we live matters, and if you have a great idea to share with your neighbourhood, the Victoria Foundation wants to help make it happen. Click here to get started on your application.

⭐️ Capital Picks

⛰️ Island hikes: Discover 35 of the Island’s best hikes in this book released today.

🦇 The silhouette of a bat in flight is a striking sight, especially in daylight.

🤝 Now hiring: Lighting and Scenic Technician at The Butchart Gardens.

🗞️ In Other News

Emerson the stair-climbing seal is moulting in Saanich
The elephant seal who became a beach celebrity in Oak Bay last year is back, this time in the Gorge. DFO keeps relocating him but he seems to love busy human areas; officers ask you (and your dog) not to approach him. [CHEK]

Rescuers turn to AI to find orphaned orca calf’s family
A BC whale research group has opened up its AI photo database to local wildlife photographers and touring companies to help track the location of its pod. The tides remain too low for the orca to swim out of the lagoon where its mother died, but if its pod can be located rescuers may try to lift it to them in a sling. [CP / Yahoo]

Vic councillor suggests motion to ask SD61 to bring back school police liaison officers
Coun. Marg Gardiner says the officers’ presence promotes familiarity and builds relationships, which is paramount for young people. SD61 discontinued the school liaison officer project last year, citing lack of oversight for officers and concern for marginalized students who feel unsafe with SLOs. VicPD pulled its officers from SD61 schools five years ago due to budget issues. [CHEK]

🗓️ Things to do

🎶 Coleman Hell: See the Canadian musician at Wicket Hall, tonight at 7pm. [Info]

🎭 Marriage of Figaro: See the classic opera at the Royal Theatre, with shows tomorrow, Friday, Sunday and Tuesday. [Info]

🛍️ Indigenous pop-up shop: Check out this market with 25 Indigenous artists selling beadwork, carvings, body care and more. Saturday, 10am. [Info]

Looking for something to do this weekend? Subscribe to This Week In Vic to get the full list of what’s on this week.

👀 In Case You Missed It

Victoria’s 5 best matcha spots. [Tasting Victoria]

Monday’s headlines: Early-morning stabbing death downtown; Firefighters gear may be unsafe; Salt Spring may spice up bus service. [April 1

Meet the local who pedals for positivity. [CHEK

Kelp covered in large hooded nudibranchs, seen during a scuba dive northwest of Ucluelet. [Link corrected from yesterday!]

The best first date spot in the city. Vote for your favourite. [Tasting Victoria]

Desaturated downtown: Black-and-white snapshots of city streets. [Instagram]

That’s it!

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