Halifax’s biggest cruise ship of the year (so far) arrives this week | News | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST
With a capacity of 3,215 passengers, the Norwegian Prima (seen in 2022) is the largest cruise ship to arrive in Halifax so far in 2023.

Halifax’s biggest cruise ship of the year (so far) arrives this week

Container ships, cruise ships, cargo carriers and more vessels bound for Halifax the week of May 15-21.

If you’ve been anywhere near Halifax Harbour in the last two weeks, you’ve seen the Orion crane ship looming over Dartmouth’s skyline. One of the world’s largest offshore construction vessels, it can lift 5,000-tonne loads up to a height of 178 metres—more than twice the height of the Purdy’s Wharf towers. Since Saturday, it’s been joined in the harbour by the GPO Grace heavy load carrier, as it prepares to transport wind turbines to a project off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

But you haven’t quite seen the Orion like this:

That aerial footage comes courtesy of Coast reader Carl J., whose Instagram page is peppered with bird’s eye views of Halifax Harbour and Nova Scotia’s coastline. And with that, let’s get into this week’s harbour report—which includes four more cruise ship arrivals (and court disputes!), an olio of oil tankers and a detour into Halifax’s ties to the American Revolution.

Monday, May 15

The week starts with a delayed arrival. The Tropic Hope container ship returned to Halifax’s South End Container Terminal on Monday morning, arriving just before 7am from Philipsburg, Sint Maarten. It’s a “reefer” ship, which carries everything from fresh produce, to canned goods, to building materials. The port call comes a week behind the ship’s schedule, after stops in Saint Thomas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Palm Beach, Florida. But prepare to bid Hope farewell tonight: The ship leaves for West Palm Beach at 11pm.

On Hope’s heels is the 293-metre NYK Constellation container ship—which was projected to arrive at the Fairview Cove Terminal around noon, but seems unlikely to meet its ETA, given its last coordinates had it lolling about the Saint John Harbour on Monday morning. Once it reaches Halifax, it’s headed onward to Southampton, UK.

click to enlarge Halifax’s biggest cruise ship of the year (so far) arrives this week
Alf van Beem / Wikimedia Commons
The NYK Constellation container ship, seen in Rotterdam in 2007, arrived in Halifax on Monday, May 15, 2023.

Lastly, you may be familiar with 2 Crows in Halifax, but how about ONE Eagle? The Japanese-built container ship—also operated by NYK Line—is slated for a 5pm arrival at the South End Container Terminal. It’s inbound from Egypt’s Suez port, finishing a month-long voyage from Vietnam through Singapore and Sri Lanka.

Tuesday, May 16

More NYK in the harbour on Tuesday. The 294-metre NYK Daedalus container ship is set for a 7am arrival at the Fairview Cove Terminal. It’s en route from Antwerp, Belgium, roughly a week behind schedule, and leaves for Port Everglades, Florida on Wednesday.

The first two cruise ships of the week sail into port Tuesday morning. The first of the two, the 3,215-passenger Norwegian Prima, will be the biggest cruise ship to arrive at Halifax’s Pier 20 so far this year. It left New York City on Sunday, May 14, and sails for Akureyri and Reykjavik, Iceland. The second arrival looks downright minuscule by comparison: The 210-passenger Pearl Mist is slated for an 8am arrival on its way to the Great Lakes.

click to enlarge Halifax’s biggest cruise ship of the year (so far) arrives this week (2)
The Pearl Mist cruise ship, seen docked in Shelburne in 2009 amid legal disputes, arrives in Halifax on Tuesday, May 16, 2023.

The Mist comes with a spicy backstory, courtesy of the Baltimore Sun: The ship’s parent company signed a US $43.5-million deal with Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding in 2006. The agreement was for Irving to build the vessel and have it ready for cruising in 2008. Instead, per the Sun, it ended with a “nasty divorce that that involved two federal courts and an arbitration panel that itself was reduced to internal squabbling.”

Pearl Seas Cruises complained that Irving had built a faulty ship and claimed “70 items were deficient.” Irving argued it had followed its contract “to the letter.” There were arguments about seaworthiness—complete with letters of failed safety trials. Pearl Seas wanted $30 million back for its investment, plus $30 million in damages. Irving wanted Pearl to take the ship, which it had ordered and was refusing to accept. Instead, the ship was taken to Shelburne to sit at a repair yard as the two sides argued. It took until 2013 for Pearl Seas and Irving to settle the matter. So, a Halifax return for the Pearl Mist is a bit like running into your ex after you threw all their things out the window and then deleted their number.

If only there was a story for that…

Tuesday’s a busy day in port, so let’s skim through the other arrivals: The Vivienne Sheri D, ZIM Qingdao, MSC Cornelia and MSC Rossella container ships are all due in port—the former two at the South End Container Terminal and the latter two at the Fairview Cove Terminal.

Moving on…

Wednesday, May 17

In less bitter cruise news, the Viking Polaris cruise ship is due at Halifax’s Pier 20 at 9am on Wednesday. The 380-passenger vessel is back in town after Saturday’s visit. (Which means that last week’s cruise itinerary, forecasting a New York to Toronto run, was off—The Coast regrets the error.)

It’s a medley of ship arrivals the rest of the day: One container ship (Atlantic Sun), two cargo ships (Oceanex Sanderling and Nolhan Ava), a bulk carrier (Santander), a vehicle carrier (Morning Charlotte) and an oil tanker (Acadian) are all expected in Halifax Harbour. The Santander is the farthest-flung of the bunch, en route from Trombetas, Brazil. The ship has been travelling the Amazon River and will round its way up the Atlantic Ocean to Nova Scotia.

Thursday, May 18

Remember that old yarn about storks delivering babies? Turns out it was shipping containers they delivered. The world’s biggest stork—the 364-metre ONE Stork container ship—arrives in Halifax toward the end of this week, nearly 10 days behind schedule. The ship is slated for a 7am arrival at the South End Container Terminal. As of Monday afternoon, it’s been docked in Norfolk, Virginia.

click to enlarge Halifax’s biggest cruise ship of the year (so far) arrives this week (3)
Solent Ships / YouTube
The ONE Stork container ship, seen in Southampton in 2021, arrives in Halifax on Thursday, May 18, 2023.

Not far behind it is the MSC Santa Maria container ship, scheduled for a 2pm arrival at South End Container Terminal. It’s inbound from Sines, Portugal, nearly 11 days behind schedule, and headed onward for Montreal.

Finally, the 1,430-passenger Zaandam cruise ship returns for its fourth Halifax stop of 2023. It’s set to arrive at Pier 20 at 8am and leave at 4pm.

Friday, May 19

It’s a quieter Friday on the harbourfront, with just two scheduled arrivals: The MSC Melissa container ship and the Algonova oil products tanker. The former is slated for a 6pm arrival at the South End Container Terminal, inbound from Baltimore and headed for Saudi Arabia afterward. The latter is on its way from Sarnia, Ont. Last December, the Algonova found itself stuck in ice along the St. Clair River. Both the Canadian and US Coast Guards teamed up to free the vessel.

Saturday, May 20

The Grande Baltimora ro-ro/vehicle carrier is Saturday’s first of two arrivals. Operated by Italy-based Grimaldi Lines, the ship is the first of three sister units built in China’s Jinling shipyards and can carry up to 6,700 cars over four hoistable decks. It’s en route from Valencia, Spain and scheduled for a 6am arrival at Eastern Passage’s Autoport.

Later in the morning, the CMA CGM G. Washington container ship is due for an 8am arrival at Halifax’s South End Container Terminal. Which prompted this week’s question in The Coast’s newsroom: Did George Washington ever come close to visiting Halifax?

Not quite. But according to the Smithsonian Magazine, Washington did receive a letter while his troops laid siege to British-held Boston in 1776:

“Sir,” the letter began. “You may reasonably imagine that it is presumptuous in me to take such liberty in writing to your Excellency; still, its going from one whose principles are actuated from the genuine feelings of liberty, and an indelible anxiety for the happiness of his country.”

The writer went on to express solidarity with America’s “great struggle” against the crown; and strongly hinted that rebellion could be fomented in his neck of the woods—with support from the general. “We would greatly rejoice could we be able to join with the other Colonies, but we must have other assistance before we can act publicly.”

That letter carried no signature with it, but it’s believed that the author was Halifax’s John Allan, a former clerk of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court and representative for Cumberland Township in Nova Scotia’s House of Assembly. He was sympathetic to the American cause and feared that the province would soon charge him for treason. He fled across the border to Maine and eventually met Washington in Philadelphia. Allan then joined the Massachusetts Militia.

So, did Washington visit Halifax? No, but Halifax visited Washington.

Sunday, May 21

The week wraps with five more container ships scheduled to arrive in Halifax. The Atlantic Sea is slated for an 8am arrival at the Fairview Cove Terminal, inbound from New York City. The Augusta Luna, currently in Cuba, arrives two hours later at Halifax’s Ocean Terminals.

click to enlarge Halifax’s biggest cruise ship of the year (so far) arrives this week
Paul Townley
The Atlantic Sea container ship, seen in Liverpool in 2016. The Atlantic Sea arrives in Halifax on Sunday, May 21, 2023.

At 2pm, both the Tropic Lissette and ZIM Shekou container ships are expected to berth at the South End Container Terminal. The former is currently on its way to Saint Thomas, US Virgin Islands, while the latter left Valencia, Spain on May 10.

Last but not least, the AS Felicia is set for a 4pm arrival at the South End Container Terminal. It’s currently docked in Kingston, Jamaica.

Martin Bauman

Martin Bauman, The Coast's News & Business Reporter, is an award-winning journalist and interviewer, whose work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Calgary Herald, Capital Daily, and Waterloo Region Record, among other places. In 2020, he was named one of five “emergent” nonfiction writers by the RBC Taylor Prize...
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