Cruisin’ the Strip, Prince Rupert Style

Prince Rupert Cruise Ship

Prince Rupert has recently become a can’t-miss stop on the Inside Passage cruise route.

Our deep harbour, magnificent scenery, and welcoming Canadian charm make us a place that everyone enjoys visiting.

The Inside Passage runs 1500 kilometers from Washington to Alaska, along a watery highway of fjords carved from ancient glaciers. Prince Rupert is a natural place to stop along the way. Large-scale Alaskan cruises from starting points in the Pacific Northwest (Seattle, Victoria, and Vancouver) make up the bulk of liners that dock in our waters. Others sail from as far south as San Diego, or to transoceanic ports in Asia. We’ve always been a global shipping gateway, but now we’re also a recreational port of call!

Crystal Cruise Serenity at Dock8 Major cruise lines have Prince Rupert on the itinerary this season: Crystal; Cunard; Hurtigruten; Ponant; Oceania, Regent-Seven Seas; Seabourne; Silversea; and Windstar.

We are also proud to host smaller, exclusive ships, as well as numerous private yachts, sailboats, and catamarans. BC Ferries even offers an Inside Passage day or overnight trip!

This summer, the Port of Prince Rupert expects 12,000 visitors at the Northland Cruise Terminal. That brings a lot of excitement to Cow Bay and downtown. The city will be buzzing in the summer, and those of us who call this city home are ready to showcase our unique cultural and environmental heritage.

Why Prince Rupert?

Just 65 km south of the US border, Prince Rupert is ideally situated along the Inside Passage. Lush temperate rainforests mingle with deep waters, here. Our hillsides and shores are filled with spectacular wildlife! BC is home to the world’s largest population of black (and cinnamon) bears; with bountiful waters and endless untouched forests, these beautiful beasts find an attractive habitat in Prince Rupert (don’t we all!). Our skies are filled with birds, our waters with fish, seals, sea lions, and whales. For thousands of years, all of these creatures have been integral to the lives of the Tsimshian First Nations people. Today, they continue to inspire awe in everyone who comes here.

Boats in a northwest coast harborJust as the wildlife welcome guests to this region, Prince Rupert residents are ready with a friendly greeting. Upon arrival in our fair city, visitors will be met with our exceptional hospitality. Local outfitters are proud to offer tourists a number of inspiring excursions that highlight our true North Coast spirit. Some guests choose to explore Prince Rupert on their own, looking around our spectacular cultural institutions and getting a taste of local flavours, others sign up for guided specialty tours.

Cruise ship passengers select from a wide range of shore excursions, including a rainforest walk to Butze Rapids; a floatplane tour over the wooded islands, glacial mountains, and waterfall-strewn fjords to the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary; whale watching; kayaking; golfing; and hiking. More urban cultural tours include the captivating Museum of Northern British Columbia, rich in the history of local indigenous peoples; the Kwinitsa Railway Museum; the North Pacific Cannery; or walking tours of the city’s colourful past.

Most of these tours are also available to visitors who arrive by land and air. The concierge at the Crest is happy to help our guests book exclusive local trips and experiences.

A Century on the Sea

Prince Rupert may be reasonably new to the pleasure cruise scene, but we actually have something of a torrid history with these big ships. The city’s founder, Charles Melville Hays, was an unfortunate passenger on the Titanic.

Steamship at Canadian Port 1900At the turn of the last century, a wave of expansionism washed across Canada, propelling urban development ever westward. Integral to this movement was the railway system. Competing railroad companies each sought to build the most effective and most utilized transcontintental system.

Enter American railway executive, Charles Melville Hays. After having proven himself in the industry in St. Louis, Hays was brought in to be the General Manager of the Grand Trunk Pacific line (based in Montreal), with a goal of developing a northern cross-country railway terminating on Canada’s west coast. Though set squarely in underexplored territory, this bountiful and strategically-placed location was destined to become a profitable port.

Hayes dreamed of building a sophisticated and wealthy city to rival Vancouver and San Francisco. He founded his terminus in what would eventually become Prince Rupert because of its ice-free deep harbour, bountiful natural resources, and proximity to Asia and the US (a man ahead of his time!).

With deep foreign pockets (mainly from Grand Trunk’s parent company in London) and plenty of eager Canadian speculators, Hays oversaw rapid development in this coastal haven. Shorelines were cleared for housing, and a city plan was designed, replete with first-class hotels, waterfront parks, and a high-volume dock. Parliamentary endorsement and the promise of an economic boom attracted an optimistic and industrious population, ready to seek their own fortunes in the rich waters, forests, and mines. A nationwide competition was held to name the new city: Prince Rupert was the pioneering first Governor of the Hudson Bay Company, and seemed a fitting namesake for this trailblazing community.

News Clipping about Titanic Disaster with imagesBy 1912, Prince Rupert was riding a swell of potential, headed for success, but so grandiose in scale that the Grand Trunk Pacific was actually more than $100 million in debt. Hays went to England to convince the railroad’s Board of Directors to continue funding the project (he did manage to secure a promissory note), and had a return ticket on the White Star Lines’ enviable new ship, the Titanic. Charles M. Hays, at only 55 years old, went down with the ship. His body was later pulled from the water and buried in Montreal.

The Titanic may not have been headed for Cow Bay, but its sinking sent devastating ripples upon our shores, too. Without the dynamic and determined Hays at the helm, the Grand Trunk Pacific went under (although they did survive just long enough to complete the railway, a route that is still in use today), and the dream of a Prince Rupert metropolis was never realized.

For the last century, our hardworking city has survived several booms and busts. Our perfect location has helped us develop strong fishing and shipping industries. Prince Rupert has served as a temporary military base in wartime, and is at the centre of the traditional lands of the Tsimshian First Nations, which infuses the town and the population with an exceptional connection to the land and its natural resources, and an abundant cultural heritage. As we move forward in the 21st century, our importance as a port continues to grow, and a tourism boom is bringing a new wave of residents and visitors to the city.

Since its inception, beautiful Prince Rupert has proven itself to be so much more than just a stopover –it’s a destination.

Come see why Prince Rupert will be your favourite port of call (whether you arrive by air, land, or sea!). Make your visit to the city absolutely perfect when you stay at the Crest. Contact us to book your trip.