After two successful visits in 2014, the Pearl Seas cruiseline has booked 10 stops in Pictou County for 2015, four of which are overnight stays.
“We’re absolutely thrilled,” said Michelle Young, co-chair of the Pictou County Cruise Line Committee and one of the people who has spent years marketing Pictou County as a port destination.
For those who have been working behind the scenes since Nov. 2006, it's exciting to see their labours have not been in vain, said Young and Geralyn MacDonald, also co-chair of the Pictou County Cruise Line Committee. MacDonald compares it to having a baby.
“You work so long for this. We knew we had the product. We knew we had what they were looking for. This is the result.”
She believes it is also the beginning.
While getting ready for this summer’s visits, she said the cruise committee will also be looking for new ways to promote the port to other cruise lines. It was a face-to-face visit in Miami that resulted in the relationship with the Pearl Seas and she believes it’s that approach that is need to get more here. That’s why she along with Cindy MacKinnon from Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores will be travelling back to Miami this year in hopes of making more contacts.
She believes that once people get a taste of Pictou County, like the Pearl Seas line, they’ll want to come back.
“That’s the big thing, getting your foot in the door,” she said. “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. That visit in September 2012 we rolled out the red carpet.”
The results were evident. They received postcards from people in the UK talking about what a wonderful experience they had.
They had the same kind of positive response from the visits this past fall too.
The ship in October was initially supposed to come on market day. When it came two days earlier, organizers scrambled to pull together a market at the Glasgow Square for them to stop in at.
One of the people from the cruise company praised them for providing the experience, warm welcome and culture all in an hour.
In addition to the increased bookings, Pictou County is also receiving praise as a hidden gem in articles in cruise publications.
“These are global magazines that really get the word out,” MacDonald said. “It’s the cruise radar of the world.”
As preparation gets underway for the new visits, MacDonald said the committee will be working with the tourism operator to arrange details.
Visits to downtown ships and local museums and listening to local music are all events she envisions being on the itinerary. The overnight stays will most likely mean that people will be stopping at local restaurants to eat in the evening as well as for entertainment, Young said.
The average age of the people on the cruises coming is around 75 and they are generally experienced travellers.
“They want something more than the entertainment on the big ships,” MacDonald said.
The bagpipe band that has sent off the visitors in the past has been popular and will likely continue in the future. The committee will be meeting soon and on a regular basis to make it all continue as successfully as it has begun.
“We do have a lot of work ahead of us,” MacDonald said. “I think this is only going to get bigger.”
Tentative cruise ship arrival dates