All Things Travel: Autumn Busy Season For New England Cruises

By Bob Weiss, CBSBoston.com Travel Contributor

BOSTON (CBS) – As the leaves start to turn, cruise passengers turn to Boston for a vacation and a chance to see the bright colors.

In October, over 100,000 passengers will pass through Massport’s Black Falcon Cruise Terminal on departures for Maine and Canada, one day ports-of-call by ships and repositioning cruises as vessels head south for the winter season.

A total of 43 comings and goings of cruise ships will take place in October, sometimes as many as three ships in port on the same day.

Labor Day is far from the end of a record tourist year. Logan Airport is on target to handle 32 million passengers this year, bringing many new foreign visitors to Boston.

According to Bill Walsh of Cruise Travel Outlet, one of the largest seagoing travel agencies located in Salem, N.H., 80 percent of the cruise passengers leaving  Boston for Canada will arrive from outside the area at Boston’s at Logan Airport.

Just the opposite is true during the summer months with weekly departures on Norwegian Cruise Lines and Holland America traveling to Bermuda. Over 90 percent of the people traveling come from points three hours or less from the city.

According to the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, the overall visitor count in the past summer rose by 6.2 percent. The average occupancy rate for Boston hotels was 88.1 percent, the highest in recent years.

To accommodate the increased business, the Boston Redevelopment Authority approved a new hotel within a five minute walk of Black Falcon Cruise Terminal. Expected to open in 2018, it will have about 400 rooms and will carry the Hilton brand name.

The new property and the postponement of the South Boston Convention & Exhibition Center expansion have changed the area landscape for Massport. They had been working on proposals to build a 1,000 room hotel on property directly across from the center.

Massport CEO Tom Glynn told CBSBoston.com that this project would probably move forward as a 500 room hotel.

It should also be noted that the Seaport District now has three hotels with over 1,000 rooms within a mile of the Cruise Terminal. They include the waterfront Renaissance, the Seaport Hotel and the Westin Waterfront. October is a big month for business travel and conventions in the city so rates are going to be high in hotels throughout the Seaport District.

Traffic is the major problem facing growth on the waterfront.

Thousands of workers and residents will be moving into the area in the next couple of years. The MBTA is carrying capacity business from the airport and Seaport to South Station during the rush hour. The cargo terminal is also located in South Boston and large trucks need to move through the area.

An important footnote to all of this activity is who is handling public safety? The State Police, because of the Massport connection at Logan and their property ownership in the Seaport, have claimed the territory going back many years. The Boston Police come into the area with 911 calls and Massport police are in charge on Massport properties like the Fish Pier and the cruise terminal.

“People are surprised that the cruise terminal is so busy after Labor Day during the foliage season. Foliage is a big attraction for people around the world coming to New England,” said Glynn.

Bob Weiss reports on business travel on Mondays at 5:55 a.m. on WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

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