At 6:50 in the morning, the plaza in front of Canada Place is deceptively quiet. Pedestrians pass back and forth in summer clothes, sipping lattes and looking up at the sky.
The only ones sweating in the light morning breeze are men and women in bright Port Metro vests. A VPD traffic cop shouts for another pair of eyes to face the side of the street he can’t see. A young man wipes the sweat from his forehead as he signals taxis to the curb.
They all glance in the direction of the water, where two cruise ships—the Celebrity Solstice and the Crown Princess—have already docked. Yet another giant ship, the Norwegian Jewel, is waiting its turn.
Finally, the rattle of a luggage wheel is heard. The taxi man peers down the quay. “They’re coming.”
About 13,300 passengers will be disembarking this Friday morning, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority estimated in a news release. “As a result,” the advisory reads, “higher than normal traffic volumes are anticipated for the downtown core, along with increased demand for taxis and public transportation.”
Today (May 6, as well as May 14 and 15) has been declared a high-volume day, with between 11,000 and 14,000 passengers and three cruise ships entering Vancouver's harbour each day so designated. Each and every ship that docks at Canada Place injects more than two million dollars ito the local economy, the release states.
Vancouver can expect approximately 830,000 cruise passengers in 2016, or enough people to fill B.C. Place stadium more than 15 times. A three-percent increase in passengers over the previous year is predicted for the 2016 cruise season.
Canada Place is uniquely equipped to handle passenger frequency as high as this. At street level, a fleet of taxis lines up along the waterfront, directed by both police and Port Metro staff. Below the streets, in Canada Place’s underground parking lot, a dozen full-length busses wait in ordered rows. The majority of passengers will come through here, board a bus, and be whisked off.