Large cruise ships coming to Kingston, Ont.

The city of Kingston is looking to attract a new industry to its shores, using one of its prime features: its waterfront.

It is building a new deep-water dock to attract larger cruise ships that often bypass the region.

Executive director Megan Knott says it has been researched for two years and now a temporary location, in the district of Portsmouth, between Portsmouth Olympic Harbour and Providence Care Hospital, has been identified.

“It really let’s us identify another offering in our city,” she explains.

Knott says the vessels the city is looking to attract can carry up to 500 passengers, and often travel from places like Quebec and Toronto, using the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario as a means to pass though.

Now, Knott says the new the deep-water dock will be large enough to hold the ships and have them dock overnight in some cases.

“Because we sit on Lake Ontario, access to water is not the issue, and so being able to offer another type of stop and experience in Kingston is really important,” she says.

Knott explains that passengers will be brought into the downtown core on tour buses.

Kingston currently hosts smaller cruise ship lines and day-trip passenger vessels. Tourism brings in half a billion dollars each year, but often visitors come from nearby areas like Toronto.

Knott says the new industry hopes to expand that both nationally and internationally.

“It allows folks right across Canada to be able to come into Kingston port, stay, and be able to experience what Kingston has to offer and not just pass it by,” she explains.

Cruise ships will be able to dock starting in the spring of 2022. Downtown businesses say that after a difficult year under COVID-19 restrictions, the chance to see more visitors is exciting.

“If they can dock here instead of larger cities why not? We benefit from it,” says market vender Lisa Davis.