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Monday, March 23, 2009

18 million...

An estimated $18 million will sail out of Vancouver next year after Carnival Cruise Lines decided to shift most of its Alaska cruise business to Seattle, Tourism Vancouver said Monday.

Steve Pearce, vice-president of Tourism Vancouver, said the dwindling economy worldwide seemed to be the reason behind the decision, because most Carnival customers are from the United States and flying in and out of Seattle is cheaper for them.

"Nine sailings, I believe, are going to Seattle, which is unfortunate," Pearce told CBC News on Monday.

"Each sailing for us is about $2 million economic activity, and [that] is an $18-million hit in the sector."

The U.S. cruise line announced last week that its 2,124-passenger ship, Carnival Spirit, will sail from Seattle beginning in May 2010 on seven-day round-trip cruises to southeast Alaska.

"It's usually a cheaper experience overall, departing out of Seattle than it is out of Vancouver, but it is a very different cruise experience, as well," Pearce said.

"They think that their customers are looking for deep discounts and they think they can offer those kinds of opportunities better out of Seattle than they can out of Vancouver."

But Pearce said he is not overly worried because there will still be more than 260 cruise ship sailings out of Vancouver next year, which is expected to bring in half a billion dollars.

"I don't see it being a long-term strategy," he said of Carnival Cruise Lines' shifting of business to Seattle. "I see this being a short-term tactic to take advantage of the circumstance."


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