Serenade of the Seas at Ballantyne Pier in Vancouver, BC.
Photo © Aaron Saunders

The steep downturn in the Alaska cruise market this year may have an unintended upside for those passengers embarking in Vancouver, British Columbia: with a few exceptions, Port Metro Vancouver’s 2010 Cruise Ship Schedule shows vessels tying up exclusively at Canada Place.
Built in 1923, Ballantyne Pier has been used as Vancouver’s secondary cruise ship terminal for many years  Most recently, almost all Celebrity and Royal Caribbean sailings used the pier, usually on busy Saturday’s when all of Canada Place’s three berths were occupied.
The major drawback of the pier was that, unlike Canada Place which sports an accessible promenade for well-wishers to watch the ships leave for Alaska in addition to a host of hotels in the immediate vicinity, Ballantyne is located in a heavily-secured industrial port area.  Not only is it complicated to access by vehicle, there is absolutely nothing within walking distance anywhere near the port and the area itself suffers from a large homelessness, drug, and prostitution problem.  
This year, that situation appears to have been remedied.  With sailings reduced overall from last year,  there is less pressure on the three Canada Place berths, allowing all cruise ships coming to Vancouver to dock there this year.  In fact, the only ships to use Ballantyne this year were the Statendam and Oosterdam during the 2010 Winter Olympics last month. 
Rhapsody of the Seas at Canada Place.
Photo ©2009 Aaron Saunders
With the decline in ships traversing the Inside Passage to Alaska, does this spell the end for Ballantyne Pier?  Not necessarily.  While passenger traffic has dropped off and is poised to stay that way for the next few years, removing existing infrastructure is not something that any port would consider.  More than likely, Ballantyne will continue its long career of faithfully serving passengers in the shadow of its more famous cousin, Canada Place.

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