SHELBURNE, N.S. – Hundreds of passengers from the cruise ship Marina made Shelburne a port of call on May 2, disembarking the massive 238.9m (784’) Oceania Cruises liner moored in the harbour to spend the day in town, taking in the sights, participating in special events, shopping, dining and travelling on excursions from Yarmouth through to Lunenburg.
Darren Shupe, the manager of Community and Economic Development for the Town of Shelburne, said early estimates were that between 800 to 900 passengers and crew disembarked for the day.
“My general sense from the passengers I spoke with was that they really loved their visit to town and the tours to Lunenburg, Barrington and Yarmouth, and the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre,” said Shupe. “A number of passengers and crew commented that this was their favourite stop on the cruise and they hope to return.”
Shupe said from a logistical point of view, the hard work that went into planning and preparing for the visit paid off.
“The arrival and departure of passengers went very smoothly,” he said.
Tenders began bringing passengers ashore around 8:30 a.m. The feeling was festive along Dock Street, with piper Pat Melanson greeting each tender-load of passengers with a tune from either the bagpipes or a pipe. Reenactors dressed in period costume posed for hundreds of photos, and numerous other volunteers, including local musicians, helped make the visitors feel welcome.
Positive comments could be heard everywhere, from how great the scenery is, to the richness of the area’s history and culture.
Vendors markets at the Shelburne Guild Hall and the Osprey Arts Centre, the shops throughout town and the Shelburne Museums by the Sea complex were busy throughout the day.
Museum director Shauna Allen said they had an estimated 477 people visit the museum complex, and 232 take part in programming including the whirligig workshops and historic walking tours.
“All our feedback was really positive,” said Allen, with visitors telling the museum interpreters that “they were loving their experience at the museum.”
Allen said she had been working with ambassadors since the fall to develop off-board experiences and programs that would be exciting and engaging for the cruise ship passengers.
“I’m really glad that it worked out,” she said. “It was positive on all sides for the guests, the staff. People left tired, but really happy and excited.”
Where the Shelburne museum complex isn’t open yet for the season, Allen said she was worried about the partial closure but said they were really able to adapt and make it work.
“The feedback we got on what we were able to open was that it was so interesting and engaging for the visitors. It wasn’t even questioned why they couldn’t go behind a closed door,” she said. “We were able to be creative so the visitor didn’t even notice we were partially closed. What we put front and center was exceptional.”
Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall said it was a wonderful day.
“A huge thank you to all who were involved in showcasing our beautiful town today for the cruise ship visitors,” she wrote in a Facebook posting. “From what I am hearing, a truly memorable day was had by all. Many, many worked long and hard in preparation for today to make sure the experience for visitors was unforgettable.”
She thanked a long list of individuals, the volunteers and the public for making the port call a memorable and enjoyable day, and also noted the town’s Public Works staff had also worked tirelessly to repair the extensive damage done to the waterfront during a storm in January.
“One more time, you have all absolutely done Shelburne proud!” she said to all.
Looking ahead, the Town of Shelburne, who is a member and an associate port of the Atlantic Canada Cruise Association is hoping to be a port of call for more cruise ships by next year.
“Cruise ships in September would be superb,” said Allen.
The Marina is the first cruise ship to visit Shelburne since the Pearl Mist in 2014.