Hol­land Amer­ica’s Veen­dam be­gins a busy sea­son in Syd­ney.

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY JEREMY FRASER jeremy.fraser@cb­

Robert and Karen Lakin have al­ways wanted to visit the Mar­itimes.

The Tal­la­has­see, Fla., cou­ple re­cently made the de­ci­sion to fi­nally knock the trip off their bucket list by vis­it­ing the Mar­itimes aboard Hol­land Amer­ica’s cruise ship Veen­dam, which vis­ited Syd­ney on Sun­day.

Although the weather wasn’t as warm in Syd­ney as in the sun­shine state, it wasn’t stop­ping the Lakin fam­ily from see­ing what the is­land had to of­fer.

“We are hop­ing to get a car, we’ve heard you have the most scenic driv­ing route in the world, so we are hop­ing we get a car to be able to see that,” said Robert Lakin.

Lakin said he was look­ing for­ward to spend­ing the day on the is­land.

“This is our third or fourth time to Canada since we’ve re­tired and this will prob­a­bly be our last trip to the east­ern part,” he said. “What we are go­ing to fo­cus on next is prob­a­ble the western part, we’ve been to Vancouver and Vic­to­ria, but never to Calgary or the western provinces.

The cou­ple, who are known to be trav­ellers, re­tired four years ago. Robert worked for the state gov­ern­ment in Florida while Karen was a spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion teacher. The cou­ple has done a to­tal 18 cruises.

“We started our re­tire­ment hik­ing the Camino De San­ti­ago in Spain and later went on to Por­tu­gal,” said Robert Lakin. “We’ve done cruises around the Cape Horn, South Amer­ica, and we’ve done a land tour in Ice­land, just to name a few.”

The Veen­dam’s visit marked the first cruise ship of the sea­son in Syd­ney, kick­ing off a busy year that will see a

67 per cent in­crease in cruise ship calls from 2016.

The port of Syd­ney is pro­ject­ing more than 135,000 cruise ship pas­sen­gers this year, pend­ing all ships ar­rive full, not count­ing crew mem­bers.

He­lena Bon­nar of Syd­ney River and Va­lerie Parks of Syd­ney are two lo­cal ven­dors who set up shop at the Joan Har­riss Cruise Pav­il­ion for cruise ship pas­sen­gers.

Bon­nar has high ex­pec­ta­tions for the sea­son.

“I hope to be able to sell out,” said Bon­nar, 69, who has been a ven­dor for cruise ship pas­sen­gers for close to 25 years. “Most of the cruise ship pas­sen­gers en­joy their time in Syd­ney and they love the stuff we have to of­fer, so I ex­pect they will con­tinue to en­joy their time in the com­mu­nity.”

Parks, who sells knit­ted cloth­ing, said she doesn’t know for sure if she will see an in­crease in sales this year.

“There is a pos­si­bil­ity with so many more ships com­ing in,” she said. “There are days that go by when you don’t sell any­thing,

it’s not some­thing you sell ev­ery time a ship comes in, there are days you get bet­ter then oth­ers and oth­ers when you get noth­ing.”

Parks didn’t pre­pare for the sea­son any dif­fer­ent than other years.

“There’s no ex­tra prepa­ra­tion with more ship calls,” said Parks, 80. “It’s just you have to fig­ure out how many you want, like sweaters, you have to have so many of each size.”

Penny Ro­mutis of St. Peters­burg, Fla., was also a pas­sen­ger on the Veen­dam. Sun­day’s visit to Syd­ney wasn’t her first.

“I love the ports, I’ve been here five or six times be­fore — I love them,” she said. “It’s a lit­tle cold

for Florida peo­ple, but it’s when the ship came in.

“The last time I was here I rented a car and drove out to see as much of Cape Bre­ton as I could, but with the lim­ited time, I couldn’t make the whole loop.

“Each time I’ve come the board­walk here has got longer and longer, but I am dis­ap­pointed this time to see that it didn’t go any fur­ther, but it’s a very nice walk and I like it.”

The next cruise ship to visit the port of Syd­ney is sched­uled for May 10, when the Veen­dam re­turns for its sec­ond visit of the early sea­son. The full cruise ship sched­ule is avail­able at www. syd­ney­


Robert and Karen Lakin of Tal­la­has­see, Fla., stand in front of Hol­land Amer­ica’s Veen­dam cruise ship, which vis­ited the port of Syd­ney on Sun­day. The cou­ple was ex­cited to have the op­por­tu­nity to visit At­lantic Canada, one of the rea­sons they booked the trip. The Veen­dam was the first cruise ship of the sea­son to visit Syd­ney.


Cruise ship pas­sen­gers Gary and Dar­lene Al­bers of Prescott, Ont., stand for a picture at the Joan Har­riss Cruise Pav­il­ion on Sun­day. The Al­bers were among the pas­sen­gers vis­it­ing Cape Bre­ton on Hol­land Amer­ica’s Veen­dam.


Ven­dors He­lena Bon­nar, left, and Va­lerie Parks stand for a picture as they wait for cruise ship pas­sen­gers to visit their lo­ca­tion at the Joan Har­riss Cruise Pav­il­ion on Sun­day. The lo­cal ven­dors are hop­ing the in­crease in ship calls this year in Syd­ney will lead to more sales.

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