Small community in Arctic Canada disappointed by cruise ship cancellations, says mayor

Two luxury cruise ships that were scheduled to land in Ulukhaktok on Sept. 3 and 9 were cancelled due to difficult ice conditions. (Hilary Bird/CBC)
The cancellation of two luxury cruise ships that were supposed to land in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories (N.W.T.), this week is disappointing community members that were prepared for an influx of tourists.

Minerva Ward, the territorial government’s tourism and development officer for the Beaufort Delta, said in an email that the ships had to be cancelled due to difficult ice conditions in Bellot Strait and Queen Maud Gulf.

“It was disappointing for the community as they were mobilized, trained and all set to host the 400 passengers between the two sister ships,” she wrote.

Laverna Klengenberg, the mayor of Ulukhaktok, N.W.T., says many residents have had to put their plans on hold because of the cancellations. The influx of tourists was expected to bring money into the local economy. (submitted by Laverna Klengenberg)

The cruise ships, Le Boreal and Le Soleal, were set to land in Ulukhaktok on Sept. 3 and 9, respectively.

They were the only cruises scheduled to visit the community this season, according to Mayor Laverna Klengenberg.

Hurts local economy

Klengenberg said people in the community have had to put their plans on hold due to the cancellations, as the influx of tourists was expected to bring new dollars into the Beaufort Delta economy.

“Their cancellations do impact the community a lot,” she said. “It impacts the people. It impacts them, their children, their income.”

In a blog post from Aug. 31, the territory’s Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment said it worked closely with the Ulukhaktok Community Corporation to develop an itinerary for each ship. That included guided tours along with demonstrations of fish filleting, traditional sewing, printmaking and carving.

The department also said it helped artists prepare for the cruise ship season by hosting “pricing your artwork” workshops. As well, it helped train several positions that were to be staffed by the Ulukhaktok Community Corporation, including golf course attendants, security, demonstrators and cooks.

Klengenberg said about 40 people were going to be employed in the temporary positions, many of whom are homemakers or make a living from arts and crafts.

The cruise ship cancellations aren’t the only difficulties that have resulted from icy conditions. Last week, the Canadian Coast Guard rescued two sailors who were stranded on an ice floe as their boat sank in Bellot Strait.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: ‘No panic’ as cruise ship ran aground in northern Canada, says passenger, CBC News

Finland: Baltic cruise business still booming, YLE News

France: A cruise ship bound for the North Pole, The Independent Barents Observer

Iceland: Arctic tourism in the age of Instagram, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Several ships being launched to feed Arctic cruise boom, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: World’s first round-the-Arctic luxury cruise could set sail in 2020, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: Alaska’s cruise industry just keeps getting bigger, Alaska Dispatch News

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