It’s not an uncommon event when Halifax sees three cruise ship arrivals on the same date: From April to November this year, it will happen 24 times. What’s far less common? When each of those three ships holds more than 1,000 passengers. On Thursday, July 20, when the Liberty of the Seas, Zaandam and Zuiderdam cruise ships arrive with up to 7,025 passengers aboard, it will mark the busiest day of Halifax’s 2023 cruise schedule to date—and the fourth-busiest day in port for cruise traffic in all of 2023.
That traffic is both good and bad for Halifax, depending on who you ask: According to the Halifax Port Authority, which oversees the arrival of just under 200 cruise ships a year, those ships—and the roughly 325,000 annual visitors they bring—account for about $136 million flowing into Halifax and the surrounding area every year. But the ships themselves are big polluters—critics argue they’re more carbon-pollutive than any other form of travel. And some caution that Canada’s environmental laws are making things worse.
If you haven’t read it before, The Coast delved into the cruise ship industry and why it matters to Halifax.
All caught up? Here’s a look at what else is coming in and out of port this week:
Monday, July 17
Kicking off the week’s arrivals in Halifax Harbour were two container ships that, on another night, sound like a band you’d see at Bearly’s or Durty Nelly’s: Vivienne Sheri D and the Atlantic Sea. True to form, the latter arrived just after 5:30am from Liverpool, UK—birthplace of The Beatles—and leaves next for New York City—home of Blondie, the Beastie Boys and The Ramones. The former—an Eimskip-chartered ship—came into Halifax around 9am from Reykjavik, Iceland. It’s already en route to Portland, Maine.
The Lake Wanaka vehicle carrier arrived at Eastern Passage’s Autoport around 1pm from Emden, Germany. (Side note: Have you visited Lake Wanaka in New Zealand? You should. It’s lovely.) The 183-metre ship has a carrying capacity of 4,902 cars. It arrives in Halifax after earlier stops in the Netherlands, Portugal and Greece. The ship left early Tuesday morning for Mexico.
Finally, the 364-metre-long ONE Owl container ship arrived just after 4pm from Norfolk, Virginia. It’s currently berthed at the South End Container Terminal. The ship is headed next for Jebel Ali, UAE.
Tuesday, July 18
You know the “free parking” square in Monopoly, where nothing really happens? Tuesday is kind of like one of those.
Wednesday, July 19
If the early bird gets the worm, then the ONE Grus container ship is set to arrive in good time on Wednesday: The ship—named for a genus of birds in the crane family—is scheduled for a 5am arrival at the South End Container Terminal, wrapping a 12-day voyage from Suez, Egypt. It will eventually leave for New York.
An hour later, the Oceanex Sanderling is booked for its weekly arrival from St. John’s, NL. It’s due at the South End Container Terminal and will return to the Rock afterward.
The 930-passenger Viking Neptune cruises in around 7am. The 229-metre-long Viking Cruises vessel is slated to arrive at the Halifax Seaport’s Berth 22 from Boston, MA. It leaves later Wednesday and sails onward to Gaspé, Saguenay, Quebec City and Montreal.
Two more container ships and a vehicle carrier and a ro-ro/cargo carrier round out the day’s arrivals. The MSC Nuria and NYK Rumina container ships are due for the South End Container Terminal and Fairview Cove Terminal around 11am and 2:30pm, respectively. The former is inbound from Montreal and leaves next for Barcelona. The latter arrives from Antwerp, Belgium, and crosses back over the Atlantic to Southampton, UK.
The Morning Concert vehicle carrier is expected at the Autoport around 11am. The ship—operated by EUKOR—is 10 days behind on its scheduled route from Southampton, UK.
Thursday, July 20
It’s a busy day in port on Thursday: Three cruise ships, three container ships, a ro-ro/cargo ship and a bulk carrier are all scheduled to arrive.
The Liberty of the Seas is the day’s biggest arrival—if not in outright size, then in passengers it will offload. With a onboard capacity of 3,635 guests, it’s the eighth-largest cruise vessel to call into Halifax’s port in 2023, after the Oasis of the Seas (5,600 passengers), MSC Meraviglia (4,485), Norwegian Escape (4,260), Carnival Venezia (3,975), Norwegian Joy (3,800), Carnival Magic (3,690) and Sky Princess (3,660).
The day’s earliest arrival belongs to the MSC Zlata R. container ship, due in port around 1am. It’s en route from Sines, Portugal, and will carry onward to Montreal. Its shipping peer, the MSC Shay—the largest ship of the day, at 340 metres long—arrives around 4pm from Baltimore, MD. It’s currently a week behind schedule. The ship will sail next for Saudi Arabia.
Finally, the NYK Demeter container ship, Nolhan Ava ro-ro/cargo ship and CSL Tacoma bulk carrier are expected to arrive from Saint John, NB, St. Pierre and Miquelon and Savannah, GA, respectively.
Friday, July 21
All is (mostly) quiet on the water on Friday. The 261-metre-long ZIM Iberia container ship is the day’s lone scheduled arrival. It’s set to berth at the South End Container Terminal around 7:15am. The ship is en route from Valencia, Spain and will sail onward to New York.
Saturday, July 22
The week’s end is harder to forecast. Both the Em Kea and CMA CGM Zephyr container ships are due to arrive at the South End Container Terminal, at least according to the Port of Halifax’s Vessel Forecast Summary, but neither ship appears on the Port of Halifax’s Port Control directory of arrivals.
The former is currently berthed in Montreal, while the latter is en route from Tanger Med, Morocco. The Em Kea is pencilled in to arrive at 7am, while the Zephyr—currently two days behind its schedule—is due for 9am.
Sunday, July 23
At first glance, naming a long-haul ship after Charles Darwin—a man whose scientific contributions not only changed how we view humanity, but also the oceans—seems a perfectly apt choice: His theory on how coral reefs are formed still (mostly) holds up nearly two centuries later. It is also a hilariously ironic choice, given Darwin once professed to hating “every wave of the ocean, with a fervour,” in a letter to his second cousin. Remember that as the MSC Darwin VI arrives at the South End Container Terminal on Sunday. The ship is due from Baltimore, before setting out for Saudi Arabia.