SHIP’S COME IN
Holland America’s Veendam begins a busy season in Sydney.
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. sydneyport.ca.
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.