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10-million cruise ship passengers — and counting — for Victoria

The visitors planned to spend Wednesday exploring and to “make the most of it, soak it all up and take in the scenery.”
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From left, Ryan and Rebecca Fairchild, and Liam, Ava and Emma Lonergan were part of celebrations marking the 10-millionth cruise passenger to arrive in Victoria on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. TIMES COLONIST

Two families were chosen to represent Victoria’s 10-millionth cruise-ship passenger Wednesday at Ogden Point, including a couple from Wales who will be renewing their wedding vows aboard.

Emma and Liam Lonergan, who have been on an Alaskan cruise with 13-year-old daughter, Ava, are taking advantage of what Emma called “a trip of a lifetime” to say “I do” again after 14 years, with the captain set to officiate the ceremony on Saturday.

Also picked from the passenger list were Rebecca and Ryan Fairchild, Victoria residents who decided it was time to cruise the coast.

Emma Lonergan said it was “a big surprise” to be chosen as a landmark passenger.

She said said the family planned to spend Wednesday exploring and to “make the most of it, soak it all up and take in the scenery.”

“It’s very beautiful, and nice and warm.”

Emma Lonergan said that she and Liam are looking forward to their renewal event. “He’s stuck with me for another 14, perhaps.”

The Fairchilds were also shocked at being asked to be part of Wednesday’s welcome. “But we were delighted to accept,” Rebecca Fairchild said.

Ryan Fairchild said they would “wander around downtown like any other tourist” during their visit.

He said they started their 10-day Alaskan cruise in Vancouver and are nearing the end of the trip — they return to Vancouver on Thursday “and then we get to hop on B.C. Ferries on the way back,” he said.

Rebecca Fairchild said she was excited for her fellow passengers “because Victoria is a gorgeous city.”

“There’s a lot to do and it’s friendly.”

Greater Victoria Harbour Association chief executive Robert Lewis-Manning was on hand to celebrate the cruise ship’s arrival, and said reaching the milestone of 10 million passengers after 54 years of cruise-ship traffic is a positive indicator for the region.

“We really are thrilled to have a strong and robust visitor economy this summer,” he said. “We are planning about 850,000 guests through this cruise facility this summer. I think we’ll probably break that record at the pace we’re going.

“It’s great to see this post-pandemic.”

Lewis-Manning said an external economic-impact study estimated that cruise-ship visitors spend about $56 million in the region each season on things like tours, shopping and dining.

He said efforts are underway to determine just how many of those visitors return to the region.

“That’s where we see a lot of positive growth.”

Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto said the welcoming event “just goes to show how the City of Victoria and the region is still a really, really desired destination for tourists of all kinds.”

She said she is happy to see the cruise-ship sector continuing to thrive and be an important part of the local economy.

The selected passengers received a $100 gift certificate to the Bay Centre and Purdy’s chocolates.

A similar welcome was organized last summer when the nine-million mark was reached.

jbell@timescolonist.com

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