When Viking Expeditions' Octantis sails into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in April, it will mark the first time in over two years that the ports of the Cruise the Saint Lawrence group have welcomed cruise guests. To ensure the flow of cruise ships to its nine ports continues and increases, Cruise the Saint Lawrence has partnered with Miami-based Access Cruise Inc. to actively market the region to cruise lines.
The marketing message emphasizes the region's cultural variety, cruise facilities — Quebec City and Montreal both have new terminals — and sustainability, a commitment the organization first made in 2019. Another aim of the partnership is to extend the cruise season, which is concentrated in the fall in the Saint Lawrence region, to take advantage of the spring and summer seasons, with winter cruises a potential brand extension.
"During the pandemic we lost the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the cruise lines at trade shows or industry meetings, which limited our exposure," said Rene´Trépanier, executive director of Cruise the Saint Lawrence. "Our partnership with Access Cruises will help us better connect with the cruise lines because they are very close to the industry and they are in Miami so they can hold in-person meetings to keep Cruise the Saint Lawrence top of mind with the executives we need to reach."
"We have a proven track record for many years with Port of Montreal, so it was natural to work with René and Cruise the Saint Lawrence," said Shannon McKee, founder and president of Access Cruise Inc. "With two large turnaround ports and a mix of medium- and small-sized ports, Cruise the Saint Lawrence has a lot to offer the cruise lines."
The nine member ports include Baie-Comeau, Gaspé, Havre-Saint-Pierre, the Magdalen Islands, Montréal, Québec, Saguenay, Sept-Îles and Trois-Rivières.
“We are excited about the new partnership between Access Cruise and Cruise the Saint Lawrence,” said Chris Martin, director of port operations for Holland America Group. “The Canada/New England cruise product is very important to our brands, and we have worked diligently with Cruise the Saint Lawrence for years to promote and expand our presence in the region. The Access Cruise team has experienced professionals specializing in destination development for the cruise industry. This collaboration will help increase the ability to market the region and the beautiful destinations around the St. Lawrence.”
Trépanier says the team's prime mission is to communicate the three-pronged sustainability message. He notes that while among Cruise the Saint Lawrence's ports only Montreal currently offers shore power, other ports in the group are considering it. "And our electricity is hydroelectric, so it's totally 'green' energy," he added.
Sustainability extends to the guest experience and maintaining the quality of life for port partners. Well-known for their warm and lively welcome receptions by residents, the smaller ports along the Saint Lawrence look to cruise calls for employment, local spending by guests and crew, and to sell local products.
The final element of the sustainability message is protecting the environment and endangered species — especially marine mammals. Trépanier says the region implemented new technologies and operational changes four years ago to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale from collisions with vessels transiting the seaway.
About Cruise the Saint Lawrence
Cruise the Saint Lawrence, founded in 2000, groups together the nine Destination Saint Lawrence ports of call of Montréal, Trois-Rivières, Québec, Saguenay, Baie-Comeau, Sept-Îles, Havre-Saint-Pierre, Gaspé and the Magdalen Islands. The mission of CSL is to grow cruise market activities in Québec and across Destination Canada New England through the provision of marketing and development services to members. Cruise the Saint Lawrence enjoys the support of partners Tourism Québec, Québec Tourism Industry Alliance and Industry, Science and Economic Development Canada.
About Access Cruise Inc.
Access Cruise is a Miami-based marketing and sales consulting group, specializing in product and business development within the cruise industry. The company provides strategic planning, custom solutions and introductions to the industry. Services include port representation, sales strategy, messaging expertise, multimedia creation, business development, tour auditing and cruise executive familiarization trips.