Cruise Tourism and Sea Ice in Canada's Hudson Bay Region


  • E.J. Stewart
  • A. Tivy
  • S.E.L. Howell
  • J. Dawson
  • D. Draper



Canadian Arctic, Hudson Bay region, sea ice, tourism, polar tourism, cruise tourism


Tourism in the Hudson Bay region of central northern Canada generally is associated with non-consumptive forms of nature-based activities (such as polar bear viewing). However, the region has experienced variable growth in the cruise sector in recent years. This paper examines patterns of cruise activity in all subregions of the Hudson Bay region during three cruise seasons (2006, 2008, and 2009) and mainly reveals a pattern of decline. Since the prevalence of sea ice is an important part of visitor experiences of polar cruises, we examine sea ice change and occurrence of icebergs in the Hudson Bay region. Our sea ice analysis suggests that the length of the navigable shipping season is increasing in this region, which may facilitate both earlier and later shipping. But in terms of cruise traffic, we suggest that the demise of ice coverage signals a possible decline in cruise activity in most of the Hudson Bay region because ice-supported wildlife may shift north with the diminishing ice regime. Given the possible environmental and socio-cultural implications of changing cruise activity patterns in the Arctic and the absence of broad-scale monitoring and surveillance of the industry, use of these available data sources is vital to building a clearer picture.