A familiar sight will soon disappear from Dartmouth’s skyline: On Friday, the 178-metre-tall Orion crane ship is set to depart from the IEL dock at the Woodside Terminal, where it has towered over Halifax Harbour since the beginning of May. Both the Orion and the GPO Grace heavy load carrier have been in port assembling wind turbines for a project in the works off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The GPO Grace leaves Monday, May 29: It’s set to sail for open waters around noon, bringing an end to its two-week Halifax residency just three hours after the Orion sings “Farewell to Nova Scotia.”
The ships’ departures are far from the only calendar-worthy mention this week. We’ll also see a trio of cruise ships, along with more oil tankers and vehicle carriers calling to port in Halifax Harbour—including one long-delayed arrival.
Monday, May 22
The week began with a hefty container ship’s departure: The 294-metre-long NYK Rigel left Halifax around 3:46am on Monday. It’s headed to Port Everglades, Florida—which isn’t actually in the Everglades, but rather in Fort Lauderdale. Bit of a disappointment, if you ask us. (The canal-filled region bills itself as the “Venice of America,” which is a bit like Saskatoon saying it’s the “Paris of the Prairies.” If your city’s claim to fame relies on another city, your city might have work to do.)
The Acadian oil tanker arrived just after 4am from Saint John, NB. It came and left the Irving Oil Terminal by Tuesday morning and is set to arrive in Boston on Wednesday.
Rounding out the day, the Morning Calypso vehicle carrier and STI Pimlico tanker arrived at 7:22am and 11:30am, respectively. The former sailed from Southampton, UK, and left Eastern Passage’s Autoport for New York City just before 5:30pm. The latter came from Amsterdam and leaves next for Saint John on Friday around 7pm.
And as one tanker arrived, another left: The Algotitan—our famous Transformer friend—left the Imperial Oil Terminal just after 5pm. It’s bound for Sarnia, Ont.
Tuesday, May 23
Brace yourself for the busiest day of the week: Seven ships arrived in Halifax Harbour on Tuesday, and two others departed.
The 293-metre-long APL California container ship was the first in port; it arrived at the South End Container Terminal at 6:46am. (APL—formerly American President Lines Ltd.—is an American subsidiary of French-owned CMA CGM.) The ship was built in 2009 and can carry upwards of 6,200 20-foot steel shipping containers. It came to Halifax via Savannah, Georgia, and left at 5:30pm for Port Qasim, Pakistan.
The IT Integrity cable layer and Zaandam cruise ship were next to arrive in Halifax; the former came in from Bay Bulls, NL around 7:46am, while the latter arrived just after 8am from Eastport, Maine. The 1,432-passenger Zaandam left Tuesday at 5pm, bound for Sydney—it returns to Boston on May 27—meanwhile, the Integrity is expected to leave Halifax around noon Friday.
A quartet of container ships and one oil tanker rounded out Tuesday’s arrivals: The MSC Sandra, MSC Alyssa, Augusta Luna and Tropic Lissette container carriers came in from Sines Portugal; Montreal; Moa, Cuba; and Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, respectively. Meanwhile, the Navig8 Success tanker—which sounds like a vanity license plate met a corporate training seminar—arrived from Antwerp, Belgium. It’s docked at the Imperial Oil Terminal.
Most of the ships have sailed onward from Halifax. The MSC Sandra left around 4pm for Boston. Its peer, the 274-metre-long MSC Alyssa, departed just after 9:30pm for Barcelona, Spain. The Tropic Lissette left just after 12:30pm, bound for West Palm Beach, Florida. The Algonova oil tanker, which had been in Halifax since May 19, left for Setubal, Portugal, just before 1am on Tuesday.
Two remain from Tuesday’s crew: The Augusta Luna—which arrived in Halifax nearly 24 days behind schedule—is set to leave just after midnight on Wednesday, while the Navig8 Success is expected to leave Thursday around 8pm.
Wednesday, May 24
All—or almost all—is quiet in Halifax Harbour on Wednesday: Just one vessel, the Oceanex Sanderling ro-ro/cargo ship, is listed on the Port of Halifax’s Vessel Forecast Summary as a scheduled arrival. It came into port at Halifax’s South End Container Terminal just before 7am, inbound from St. John’s. It leaves again for St. John’s around 8pm Wednesday.
Thursday, May 25
Last Tuesday, the 3,215-passenger Norwegian Prima set the bar as the largest cruise ship to arrive in Halifax in 2023. That distinction changes on Thursday, when the 3,635-passenger Liberty of the Seas arrives at Halifax Seaport’s Pier 22. At 339 metres long and with 15 decks, it was, for a time in 2007, the largest cruise ship ever built. (Picture Halifax’s Victoria Park, running from Spring Garden Road to University Avenue: The Liberty of the Seas is both longer and mostly wider, except for a small sliver on the park’s south end that out-measures it by about 10 metres.)
The ship is so massive, it has a rooftop wave pool and full-sized basketball court—along with whatever is happening… here. (Is that a waterslide ramp about to launch any brave souls into orbit?)
Along with the Liberty of the Seas—which is due at 8am and leaves for New York at 6pm—Halifax is scheduled for three more arrivals: The CMA CGM Louga, NYK Meteor and Warnow Master container ships are set to arrive from Montreal, Saint John and New York City, respectively. (You know those three booming metropolises, cultural forces and fashion centres that are always mentioned in the same breath? Right. Those ones. The three of them. Never just two.) The Louga and Meteor are both due at 7am, while the 180-metre-long Warnow Master is set to arrive at 8am.
The former two sail onward for Bremerhaven, Germany, and Southampton, UK, respectively.
Friday, May 26
Behold, the Seven Seas Navigator cruise ship returns. The 490-passenger vessel is expected to arrive at Pier 20 at 10am. It’s inbound from Montreal, after stops in Quebec, Baie Comeau and Sydney. The ship leaves at 9pm for Shelburne, where it will carry onward into Maine and Massachusetts, before arriving in New York City on May 31. Pity it’s missing Saint John.
Also on Friday, the twin Atlantic Sail and Atlantic Sun container ships are scheduled to arrive in Halifax Harbour, at 6am and 6pm, respectively. Both will dock at the Fairview Cove Terminal. The Sail wraps a weeklong voyage from Liverpool, UK, while the Sun is currently travelling from Baltimore, Maryland, to Norfolk, Virginia.
Last, but not least, the Morning Lynn vehicle carrier and Nolhan Ava ro-ro/cargo ship are both due at 8am, inbound from Southampton and Saint Pierre and Miquelon, respectively. The former is set to berth at the Eastern Passage Autoport, while the latter will dock, two days behind schedule, at the South End Container Terminal.
Saturday, May 27
A trio of container ships are on call for the weekend: The Em Kea, CMA CGM Pride and Lagarfoss are set to arrive at 7am, 8am and 9am, respectively. The Pride is the biggest of the three; it measures in at 366 metres and can carry an astounding 160,194 tonnes. (The Em Kea and Lagarfoss, by comparison, have carrying capacities of 42,166 tonnes and 11,811 tonnes.)
The Em Kea is inbound from Montreal, while the Pride is en route from Tanger Med, Morocco. The Lagarfoss will arrive from Portland, Maine, and sail onward to Reykjavik, Iceland.
Sunday, May 28
The ancient Greeks had a story about a poet attacked by robbers on a ship. He was about to be killed, but pleaded with his captors to sing one final song. He stood atop the ship’s deck and sang a dirge, then leapt into the sea. A dolphin, Delphinus, heard his song and rescued him.
The NYK Delphinus container ship arrives in Halifax at the end of the week. It’s set to reach port at the Fairview Cove Terminal at 5:30pm. Currently, the ship is en route from Cartagena, Colombia, to Saint John. Time will tell if its arrival comes with a song of its own.Editor's note: An earlier version of this story listed the GPO Grace's departure as Friday at noon. The story has since been updated, as the ship's departure has changed to Monday, May 29.