Vancouver's Canada Place Cruise terminal welcomes an impressive number of passengers annually. But none of the world's biggest "mega-ships" ever visit the popular Canadian port — and it isn't due to a lack of interest.
While some towering behemoths have cruised into Vancouver, some ships simply can't fit under the Lions Gate Bridge, including Royal Caribbean International's (RCI) largest "mega-ships."
In 2018, the Norwegian Bliss, the largest cruise ship to ever dock in Vancouver, carried over 4,000 passengers into the Canada Place terminal. But since the Lions Gate Bridge has a low clearance, the ship could only reach Vancouver during low tide.
The ship's next sailing into Vancouver is on April 13, 2023, which is a Pacific Coastal sailing from Los Angeles.
Due to a high local interest in cruising, the Port of Vancouver has been looking into the feasibility of building a second Lower Mainland cruise ship terminal on the banks of the Fraser River. The new cruise terminal would allow massive mega-ships like RCI's Oasis Class ships to visit Vancouver, which would increase cruise traffic in the Lower Mainland.
Tickets go on sale for the largest ship at sea
On Tuesday (Oct. 25), Royal Caribbean International released tickets for its newest ship, the massive Icon of the Seas. It is now the largest cruise ship at sea, with room for 7,600 passengers spread across 28 different types of accommodation.
Boasting the largest waterpark at sea, the towering vessel also has six "record-breaking" slides including the "Pressure Drop": the first open free fall waterslide on a cruise ship. Thrill seekers can also enjoy the 46-foot-tall Frightening Bolt, which is the tallest drop slide at sea, or the Storm Surge and Hurricane Hunter, the first family raft slides at sea with four riders per raft.
For pure adrenaline junkies, the Crown’s Edge is part "skywalk," part ropes course, and part thrill ride, culminating in a "surprising, shocking moment that will see travellers swing 154 feet above the ocean."
But the waterpark is just the tip of the gargantuan holiday ship's impressive offerings.
The new ship includes "a blend of more than 40 new and returning dining, bar and nightlife options, and cutting-edge entertainment," according to a news release.
Guests can explore eight neighbourhoods on board that include five brand-new adventures and three returning favourites. For folks looking to relax, Chill Island offers four pools and the cruise line's first swim-up bar at sea. One of the pools is also the largest pool at sea, while another is a breathtaking adults-only infinity pool.
The cruises depart out of Miami starting in February 2024, on seven-night sailings in the Caribbean that stop in popular ports including Cozumel in Mexico, Roatan in Honduras, St. Maarten, and other popular destinations.
Every cruise will visit Royal Caribbean’s private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, The Bahamas. The island has a waterpark with 13 waterslides, including the tallest in North America. When the Icon arrives, the cruise line "will debut the island’s adults-only oasis, Hideaway Beach, with an expansive pool, private cabanas with pools, and unmatched views of the ocean hues."
How Vancouverites can sail on mega-ships
Currently, cruise ships like the Icon, or ones of similar stature, can't visit Vancouver. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy sailing on the world's largest ships.
Starting this winter, locals looking to kick back on the breathtaking South Beach shore will enjoy direct service compliments of the country's largest airline.
Air Canada has announced a thrice-weekly service from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to Miami International Airport (MIA) that is slated to commence on Dec. 17, 2022.
If you want to sail on any of RCI's Oasis class ships, including the Allure of the Seas, the Oasis of the Seas, The Symphony of the Seas, or the Wonder of the Seas, most of them depart out of Miami or Fort Lauderdale.
While these ships aren't as big as the Icon, it will be over a year until its first sailing. And the other massive ships aren't anything to scoff at.
Here's a photo of the Oasis of the Seas dwarfing an average-sized cruise ship on a cruise I sailed on out of Miami in 2014.
Discover more about the largest cruise ships sailing to the Caribbean and Europe vacation destinations with Royal Caribbean.
With files from Sandor Gyarmati.