In the “everything bigger is better” category, the president of Port Vancouver has announced new plans to deal with the growing trend of longer, heftier cruise ships that won’t be able to get under the Lions Gate Bridge  and would have taken up the lion’s share of ship parking at the Canada Place cruise ship terminal downtown. The Port’s answer? Propose building  new bigger and better mega boat  terminals in Richmond or Delta to accommodate those gargantuan large cruise ships.
There is already a proposal for a two billion dollar  container terminal expansion at the existing terminal at Roberts Bank in  Delta. This is planned despite the environmental impact on  “hundreds of thousands”  of western sandpipers that are migrating to spring Arctic breeding grounds. These migratory birds feed solely on an algae found only on the Roberts Bank mudflats, nowhere else. And it appear that this algae cannot be moved or replaced, which would mean that this bird migration  could become extinct if port expansion proceeds.  Delta is also  proudly talking about their new parking facility for Port destined container hauling trucks located along Highway 17, also taking out even more of the Agricultural Land Reserve, which also happens to be the most arable soil in Canada.
But back to the Port. Port President and CEO Robin Silvester states in the Richmond News “We’re very early in the process. Cruise ships are getting bigger. When Canada Place was being built, it used to handle five cruise ships, but now it can’t even handle three of the bigger ones that come in at the same time. In fact, if you look at the size of Canada Place, if you were building a cruise terminal from scratch you’d build it the size of Canada Place just to handle one vessel… so it’s a challenge and we’re very good at dealing with challenges.”
In the Caribbean several ports have paid over $100 million to expand their port terminals to accommodate the new cruise mega ships.  Building the facilities creates jobs, with jobs also continuing to serve mega port passengers. They are also  labour intensive, with heavy demands on transportation and supply networks while the ships are in port. Unfortunately these megaships also cause urban air pollution although they are “smartly marketed as green ships”. They have “emission peaks” and burn massive amounts of fuel oil even when docked. But as the Port Cities Newsletter observes  “Cities should not be powerless victims: they could actively shape the future of global maritime trade. Mayors of the major port-cities should discuss if their interests are served with ever larger ships. If the conclusion is negative, they could collectively decide to stop accommodating them.”


  1. Burn MASSIVE amounts of fuel ??? How much fuel per passenger mile or per passenger hour ? Probably much less compared to air travel .

      1. They have “emission peaks” and burn massive amounts of fuel oil even when docked.

        Yeah, this doesn’t necessarily apply to Vancouver. The Port of Vancouver was one of the first in the world to install shore power (but ships need the infrastructure to use it).

        In 2009, the Canada Place cruise ship terminal became the first in Canada and third in the world to offer shore power for cruise ships. Shore power allows cruise ships to plug into the land-based electrical power grid and shut off their diesel generators, thereby reducing noise and emissions.

      larger than calls here typically, but 64 MW installed power with roughly 40 MW to propulsion still leaves 24 MW. And many power consumers on board a vessel cannot be simply “plugged in” meaning that up to ~30,000 hp in engines is still operating in port. Designing a ship to use shorepower has only become cost effective in the last 10 years or so. and most ships were built or refit before that.
      When you consider that cruise ships travel over 20knts, and use diesel to provide power for cooking, heating, stabilization systems, water making, lighting, etc the efficiency is often worse than modern planes.

  2. Why not extend CanadaLine to Steveston or this + BC Ferries terminal to also accommodate these new ships ?
    Or dock in White Rock ?
    Turning off the smoke belching engines probably a good idea as a prereq to dock in Vancouver, White Rock or Richmond. Go electric the last mile and while in harbor all doable.

  3. Perhaps it’s time to look at either raising the Lion’s Gate, or demoing it. Cargo ships will get larger as well, and will eventually want to come into the harbour.
    Either an artificial deep water port like Delta Port / Tsawassen Terminal is required,or something in Howe Sound / Squamish or West Vancouver is required.
    Both of those two options have no restrictions on air draft, and are able to reach deep water. The downside is that they are also terribly inconvenient for tourists, lack sufficient infrastructure, and would suck tourist dollars out of downtown.
    The river has bridges, and would require deeper dredging. Boundary Bay is a mud flat, and is far too shallow.

    1. That was the main argument for a new Massey Bridge: deeper larger freight ships as Massey Tunnel was too high in the water. Perhaps with cruise ships that plan needs revisiting ?
      Venice also doesn’t like these big ships as they allegedly destroy the city: or here

  4. We have an amazing working waterfront in Burrard Inlet and I’m not sure we would want more massive ships period. Besides with the high cost of living there soon won’t be anyone left working in the service industries in Vancouver to cater to tourists anymore…

  5. Cruise ships already plug in while in port, if they have the capability. If only the container ships could do the same.

  6. Around $500 million coming into the economy each year ($2 million each docking) can be well used for all kinds of social and infrastructure projects.
    That Massey Tunnel is increasingly problematic. Extend the Canada Line to Deltaport.

  7. The cost effective and least damaging to the environment solution for mega cruise ship visits would be to build or buy a shuttle passenger ferry of sufficient capacity to move visitors back and forth from the Convention Centre to an English Bay anchorage (with floating shore power station).
    Who wants to dock at a coal terminal even if Tsawwassen Mills is near by?

    1. About 20 years ago a (mega) American aircraft carrier anchored in English bay with a barge . The M V Britannia & several other ferries shuttled the very large crew downtown.

    2. Not using shore power, with significant extra logistical problems for resupply…
      They’ll just go to Seattle.
      Do you think a cruise ship resupplies with fresh vegetables in Skagway?

  8. Cruise ships run diesel generators to energize the on-board electrical systems when shore power is not available, or when they are not set up to receive it. They burn filthy bunker fuel with virtually no pollution control when sailing. Bunker is a very low grade fuel oil that’s burned by the tonne, not by the litre. Therefore, the cruise ship industry (along with the airline and car industries) is sensitive to rises in the cost of fuel.
    With the elevation of political tension in the oil-soaked Mideast after the recent transition in power to an impetuous young Saudi crown prince who is distinctly hostile toward Iran and its proxies, with the world glut in low price oil now drawing to a close, with the peak in cheap conventional oil production already a decade behind us, with the high cost of unconventional petroleum sources and new carbon taxes, with no new major discoveries in fossil fuels for 40 years, and with the nearing peak in U.S. shale oil and gas production, why on Earth are they promoting cruise ships the size of Mars?
    Our current cruise ship industry is very healthy and manageable with existing infrastructure. Bigger is not better. It’s just a larger floating Vegas and theme park. The neighbours one one side of us once went on an Alaskan cruise, and they said the best part was seeing nature in the Inside Passage (which was limited to daylight hours), including one of the biggest ship-rocking glacier calving events ever witnessed in Alaska. The irony of witnessing climate change up close from a big, smoking cruise ship was lost on them. They did not enjoy the casinos, lame entertainment and overdose of loud personalities at every meal, and chose to eat in their room with their family more often on the way back.
    The neighbours on the other side recently went on a long Caribbean cruise, but the ship was completely overcome by Norwalk. They came back totally whacked and it took quite a long time for them to recover. Another neighbour joked that it was the Ten Thousand Dollar Diet. They weren’t amused.
    A co-worker and his spouse used to go cruising and to Vegas regularly. I advised him to try a city with a deep history for once, and they ended up in Paris. He is an avid photographer and he was converted by originality and authenticity to turn away from tourist schlock and circuses-on-the-water.
    Those who think we need to roll out billions in new infrastructure to accommodate a couple of massive cruise ships will no doubt be willing to volunteer to bring the summer Olympics to Vancouver in 2032. That would be a good time to get out of town for a couple of weeks and go to Paris … if fuel prices allow it.

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