Bon Voyage, Statendam

The Holland America Line vessel, The Statendam, made a return call on Port Alberni Thursday, May 19th. Certainly the bright, warm sunshine of the day enhanced the experience. However, the earth’s closest star couldn’t compare to Canada’s warmest welcome provided by the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Ambassadors, Shore Excursion tour guides, local businesses and residents who came down to Harbour Quay and, of course, Port Authority staff . The surprise send off courtesy of Coulson Flying Tankers’ “Hawaii” was an equally amazing end to the day best characterized by the Ship’s agent as: “perfect.”
Despite the glowing feedback received by the Ship’s agent, officers and crew, and even Canada Border Services Agency there are always ways to improve visitors’ experiences. Even though the Port Authority had anticipated mobility challenges of some passengers by ensuring we had a staffed golf cart at the ready to transport such visitors from the dock to their shore excursions we will endeavour to increase the “fleet”. Unfortunately, local transportation companies chose not to offer any kind of local shuttle service to assist those with mobility challenges and those other visitors who simply wished to see more of the community than they could by foot. The Port Authority and Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce clearly recognized this gap in our community’s service offer. The Port is confident that the Chamber of Commerce will successfully encourage this business opportunity to a private sector people transport company.
Other critiques have come from different corners of the community concerning the lack of a “festival” atmosphere. Interestingly, no such concerns were received from anyone residing outside of the Alberni Valley. In fact, there was a specific advance request from the cruise company itself to keep the event “low key” and sentiments of appreciation were received from many customers who are uncomfortable running a gauntlet of buskers and vendors in and around the point of disembarkation. While even I often look for local souvenirs of places I travel to and am sometimes pleasantly surprised by the stylings of a busker most people on these cruise ships want a relaxing, non-pressure shore experience. Of course, this isn’t to prevent those local groups known for organizing markets in the Harbour Quay Spirit Square from doing so during the next cruise ship visit, by The Amsterdam, scheduled for Sunday, September 25th.
When HAL’s “Amsterdam” will be calling on Port Alberni for her maiden port call to Port Alberni, the ship will be anchored in the Alberni Harbour and passengers will be tendered ashore in the same process as recently seen. Local residents and Harbour Quay Marina users can expect the same restrictions to Harbour Road, the Marina and marina floats, as we had to enforce for the visit by the Statendam. Also, given that this will be the first visit by this particular vessel to Port Alberni and given that the call will occur on a Sunday any person or group interested in enhancing the potential cruise visitor experience in Harbour Quay is encouraged to discuss those interests with the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Port Alberni to ensure all appropriate permits, etc are in order and the ideas in keeping with the spirit and warm welcome our community is fondly known for having.