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Some cruise ships in Halifax will anchor off Georges Island this summer

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While cruise ships are common in Halifax, having them drop anchor in the harbour isn't.

Growth of the south end cargo terminal is part of the reason some ships will be forced to tender off Georges Island.

The other is the size of the ships.

“The lower berths, which are down in ocean terminals, don’t necessarily accommodate ships as they get larger. So we can accommodate two of them along the berths in front of the seaport, and the rest have to be tendered,” says the vice president of the Halifax Port Authority, Paul MacIsaac.

The port is building a facility where the tenders can tie up and offload passengers. It’s a common practice for the cruise industry.

“The ship has its own boats, so it comes in anchors and the passengers get on the ships, tendering boats and they come to a facility here at the port,” MacIsaac says.

They're expected to do so in record numbers. Two hundred and three ships are scheduled to call on Halifax between early April and the end of October, bringing up to 375,000 passengers with them. That surpasses totals before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The tourism season is looking really, really good,” says Sean Buckland, the vice president of Ambassatours.

The tour operator plans to hire additional people to keep up with demand, and they will begin operations earlier than usual.

“Our bookings are up by 22 per cent year to date over last year, so we’re seeing a lot of advanced bookings right now," Buckland says.

Buckland adds the tendering process won't deter passengers from disembarking the ship.

The first vessel of the season will arrive April 6.

In total, 11 ships will be tendering in the harbour, the first one to do so will be in August.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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