(1:20 p.m. EDT) -- The Port of Québec in Québec City has struck an agreement with Ville de Lévis -- a city on the southern shore of the St. Lawrence River, opposite Québec City -- for use of its Quai Paquet, an esplanade and dock that will give cruise lines additional berthing options and increase the port's capacity.
The Quai Paquet, a relatively new facility run by the Québec Port Authority and located within port territory, is a short ferry ride away from the Port of Québec proper and offers features like the biggest jet fountain in Canada, along with views of the iconic Chateau Frontenac.
This year already marks a record-breaking cruise season for Québec City, with 131 calls by 34 separate cruise ships and 25 different lines, including five ships calling for the first time (Ponant's Le Soleal, Viking Sky, Viking Sea, Silversea's Silver Muse and Norwegian Jade).
The Port of Québec expects an approximate 30 percent increase over the 2016 season, which could mean close to 200,000 visitors in 2017 -- the most cruise passengers ever seen here.
"We are thrilled to announce this agreement with the Ville de Lévis as we continue to develop the Port of Québec to make cruising Canada-New England a leading international attraction," said Mario Girard, president and CEO of the Québec Port Authority. "With the start of our cruise season in early May and the recent announcement of Disney calling at Québec, we are confident we will continue to reach record-breaking visitor numbers."
The first cruise ship to call at the Port of Québec's expanded wharf will be Hapag-Lloyd's Saga Sapphire October 1.
This year marks Canada's 150th birthday, and celebrations are taking place and boosting overall tourism across the country. For more on what's new at the cruise port in Québec City this year, read our East Coast Cruise Port Update.
--By Brittany Chrusciel, Associate Editor