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Digby hopes to see more cruise ship visits as tourism promotion of region continues

The cruise ship MV Hebridean Sky visited Digby on May 28.
The cruise ship MV Hebridean Sky visited Digby on May 28. - Contributed

DIGBY, N.S. – Digby welcomed the cruise ship MV Hebridean Sky on May 28 and in the future it hopes to welcome other cruise ships.

The 90-metre vessel owned by Noble Caledonia of London, England, sailed through Digby Gut and arrived at the End Ell of the Digby Port facilities at 8:45 a.m. The 120 passengers were greeted by local Visitor Information Centre and port staff. Visitors were given pins and information about Digby upon their arrival before embarking on pre-arranged excursions.

According to a media release about the visit, one excursion that was well attended was a visit to Casa Nova Cidery and Winery in Bear River. Other guests enjoyed the floral beauty of the Historic Gardens in nearby Annapolis Royal, while others chose to browse the shops and restaurants in downtown Digby.

“Local merchants reported positive feedback to their products and were pleased to act as ambassadors for the region, answering numerous questions from the predominantly United Kingdom guests,” the release read.

A couple of avid golfers traveling on the cruise ship even managed to get in a quick round at the Digby Pines course, the release noted.

On Facebook following the visit, however, there were some people who commented that not all local merchants were given a heads up that the cruise ship would be visiting and therefore did not have the opportunity to prepare in advance for the visit.

In response to the concerns raised in these comments over lack of communication, Greg Turner, chairperson of the Digby Area Tourism Association (DATA), posted a reply on Facebook in which he acknowledged they should have done a better job of letting people know in advance that the ship was coming. He also explained that DATA is completely run by volunteers who are working on several projects to promote Digby and attract visitors to the area. A new Digby Area Visitor’s Guide has been developed (it can be viewed online at digbyarea.ca). DATA is also working with Nova Scotia Tourism on a digital marketing project to increase traffic to its Digby website. There are also many other numerous projects on the go.

DATA meets monthly and the next meeting is June 13 at 2 p.m. at the Municipality of Digby council chambers. Turner said they are always looking for more volunteers to help with the work of promoting Digby.

Turner also explained the role of the port authority when it came to the visit was to ensure the ship and its passengers arrived and departed safely.

“This was done with a lot of hard work and went smoothly,” he said.

The media release issued following the visit noted the ship’s captain and crew were impressed by the friendly, attentive and professional services provided by Port General Manager Ed Chisholm and his staff.

About the cruise ship’s visit in general, Turner told the Digby Courier/Tri-County Vanguard, “It was great having the cruise ship in town. Visitors from the ship really liked our area. We are working hard to encourage ships like this to visit and we hope the Hebridean Sky will return.”

Visitors were said to have been “particularly delighted” to see the workings of a busy fishing port and took great interest in the many scallop, groundfish, and lobster boats and all their associated traps and equipment.

Driven by the high tide cycle, the MV Hebridean departed Digby at 3:30 p.m. Departing comments to port staff as people departed included “This was so enjoyable, I wish we had more time” and “I’m telling my sister in Surrey about Digby so she can visit.”

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