THUNDER BAY, ONT. — Businesses in Thunder Bay’s Waterfront District Business Improvement Area are preparing for summer and to receive visitors from cruise ships, the first of which will arrive on May 27.
With seven post stops in Thunder Bay for the 378-passenger Viking Octantus ship and another two port stops for the 210-passenger Ocean Navigator, Thunder Bay will see the most visitors in years.
Guests will be welcomed from Tourism Thunder Bay with a staffed concierge tent shipside, from 5-8 p.m. on Fridays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, to help connect guests with attractions, culinary and transportation options.
Maps, magazines and QR codes to the city’s walking tours and other digital materials, along with a business improvement area brochure, will be provided for all guests.
“We are preparing our businesses so they can be all hands-on-deck when we have people docked here,” said Kara Pratt, co-ordinator of the waterfront district BIA.
“We want to get them pumped up for the new visitors of the city, which is exciting after all of the delays.”
Pratt says there is much partnering involved between businesses, the BIA and the city.
“It’s going to be a learning experience the whole summer I think, mainly with the first (cruise ship) in May, because everything’s kind of still fluid in terms of pandemic rules. I know our businesses are excited to show off what they can do, what they have in their shops and what the culinary scene will bring.”
From pasta and fresh fish cuisine to giftware and clothing, shoppers can expect the best of Thunder Bay’s home-grown products.
Pratt says the BIA has been approved to open up the streets for the summer and a funding boost from the Tourism Development Fund has been provided by the Community Economic Development Commission to help with beautification of the area.
Pratt is waiting on the availability of summer students to activate the space on North Cumberland Street and the temperature to warm up so they can install planters in the area.
Science North will be on hand for children’s activities, patios will soon be open and the painted picnic tables will all be back to brighten up the space with local artistry.
“I’ve done that application to the city to have those specific picnic tables back,” Pratt said. “We will have greenery and we will have flowers too.
The waterfront BIA is working with Bill Martin’s Nursery to install planters that the BIA purchased from them, and Trevisanutto’s Greenhouses Landscape and Design for other elements.
Pratt says the Botanical Conservatory is undergoing major renovations at the moment and currently doesn’t have the capacity to produce the plants required for the district.
“We bought our own hanging baskets, we populate them and the city takes care of them in terms of watering and we’re very appreciative of that,” she said.
“They also help us find a contractor for watering all of the other plants that we get downtown so it’s a great partnership between the two of us.”
Meanwhile, the streets are in the process of being cleaned, now that the snow has melted. Following this, patios will be assembled and opened.
“I have a job posting for our community art co-ordinator and I’m hoping that they will be able to help co-ordinate artists and musicians for downtown,” Pratt said.
“There’s a few places downtown that we’re hoping to get some artwork put up where it will brighten up the gray that we have down there. From musicians to sculptures, if we can get approval to do that, I don’t want to hold anybody back in terms of their creativity and what they can do. We’ll get to showcase the artists of Thunder Bay because that’s really our big thing, showing local pieces, it’s what we’re all about.”
It is anticipated that all Viking cruise ship visits will arrive in port at Pool 6 around 6 p.m. on Fridays. The ship will remain docked in port during the Saturdays and again on Sunday until 5 p.m. for passenger exchange and departure.
The Ocean Navigator will be in port between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on June 12 and 26, and has shore excursions planned. Typically about 30 per cent of guests stay aboard the ship while docked while others explore on their own.
Passenger exchanges involve some guests who will arrive a day or two early, or stay a day or two longer. Some visitors will be staying at the Delta Hotel. Pratt says they anticipate these folks will be exploring on their own for food and crafts.
Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal