Cruise ships and tourism are the fastest growing sector in the Port of St. John’s economy. In 2004, almost eight thousand passengers arrived on 16 cruise vessels, bringing about $1.5 million in revenues to the city. Developing this important sector is a top priority for the Port of St. John’s.
Demonstrating their commitment to the cruise industry, a dockside Welcoming Committee meets every cruise ship that enters the port. Passengers are greeted by local entertainers providing dockside amusement, and they may board the vessel to entertain passengers before they depart.
Local tour operators are available to take visitors on adventures to historic sites or for whale watching and iceberg tours. The Port of St. John’s is near many downtown restaurants and shops where visitors are greeted by friendly locals who relish their business. In addition to downtown treats, there are several interesting sites that visitors will not want to miss.
The Cape Spear National Historic Site, 11 kilometers from the Port of St. John’s, is on North America’s easternmost point. It is home to Newfoundland’s oldest surviving lighthouse and a coastal defense battery used in World War II. The historic site also has many walking trails where hikers can enjoy breathtaking coastal scenery, perhaps even spotting whales or icebergs.
The Port of St. John’s Signal Hill National Historic Site stands at the entrance of the harbor and was an important signal station protecting the town. It was used in the early 1700s to announce approaching ships (friends and enemies), and the last North American battle of the Seven Years’ War between England and France was fought here. Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless signal atop Signal Hill in 1901. Visitors will find picnic areas, walking trails, and panoramic views of the city from Signal Hill.
The Port of St. John’s Waterfront in historic downtown features historic buildings and coves that sheltered explorers, soldiers, pirates, merchants, and mariners over the last five centuries. Visitors will also find museums, galleries, parks, and many places to dine or shop in the narrow winding streets of downtown district.
The Johnson GEO Center, an 18-acre site on Signal Hill, opened in 2002 as a geological interpretation center with many underground exhibits that tell the story of Newfoundland and Labrador’s unique geological history.
Serving the purpose of natural reserve and gardens, the Memorial University Botanical Gardens cover 45 hectares near the center of St. John’s. Visitors can stroll a variety of gardens and take one of five nature trails to view some of the 120 species of birds and 25 species of butterflies that have been identified in the nature reserve.
Travelers who want to tour the Port of St. John’s by sea can get more information at the Cruise Newfoundland website.