Cruise lines > Information > Did you know that...? > Introducing Denis Bourque an individual with a passion for cruiseshipping

Did you know that...?

June 14, 2010

Introducing Denis Bourque an individual with a passion for cruiseshipping

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We are pleased to share with you an interview with an individual as passionate about cruiseshipping as he is about the Saint Lawrence. His name is Denis Bourque, Coordinator, Cruise Products for our port of call in Îles de la Madeleine.

o To begin with, could you tell readers how you came to be involved in the cruise sector?
Actually, I have been directly involved in the cruise sector since being appointed to the position of Coordinator, Cruise Products for Îles de la Madeleine in September 2009. It was then that a dedicated corporation was set up to develop the cruise product offering for the islands. A native of the region, I worked for close to 20 years as a journalist in association with a local radio station and enjoyed occasional involvement as an onboard guide with CTMA Group. It was the CTMA experience that convinced me beyond a doubt that I was on to something! I learned a great deal about cruiseshipping... not just about passenger needs, but also a thousand and one secrets about the Saint Lawrence.

o Could you tell readers what exactly your job entails?
My position was created only recently and is continually evolving. Essentially, my role is to support the development of our port of call and consolidate progress to date. We are fortunate to have a well developed tourism supply and our product is relatively well known. Thus, our current focus is on infrastructure development to provide for growth in volume and to allow us to convince greater numbers of cruise lines to include the islands on their itineraries. We are lucky to have welcomed increasing numbers of cruise ships in recent years and we are now seeking to extend the tourist season. The majority of travellers visit the islands in July and August, but we would like to extend the travel season to September and October which are the two busiest cruiseshipping months in Québec. We would even like to welcome ships into port as early as May or June.

o What do you like most about your job?
I take great pleasure in assisting with the development of our tourism product for Îles de la Madeleine. There is indeed nothing I enjoy more than having visitors discover the unique, fascinating countryscapes typical of the islands. I particularly enjoy seeing visitors marvel as the islands, in all their rugged beauty, slowly emerge as if out of the blue and begin to take shape on the horizon. You know, the synergy among development stakeholders is amazing which makes for highly motivational working conditions!

o Could you enlighten readers about cruise-related projects on the drawing board for the islands?
Later this month, a port development plan is to be tabled calling for the construction of a cruise terminal and dock facility. Once completed, cruiseshippers will enjoy access to all requisite services upon disembarkation: shuttle, guided tours, park, shops, etc. Development will focus on introducing visitors to island life through meaningful exchange between tourists and islanders.

Well aware of the impact of growth of this order, we aim to ensure that development takes place in accordance with pre-established policies and complies with the principles of sustainability, especially given the fragile nature of our local island habitat.

o As a member of the Board of Directors of SLCA, what keeps you motivated?
I joined the team on the Board of Directors when I accepted my position with Iles de la Madeleine port of call authorities. Given that I represent one of the farther removed ports of call, it was important that I be a full-fledged member of the Association, be able to exchange with my colleagues, and bring to the table the thinking and mindset of the more remote destinations.

o Could you provide us with an overview of the projects dear to your heart?
Extensively involved in supply development, I seek to follow the example of my colleagues and share the knowledge in my possession so that, collectively, we can refine and enhance our product offering in ports of call across Québec. Considerable consolidation work remains to be done and I’m excited about being able to help drive the process going forward!

o Where does cruise passenger volume stand for the islands?  
We currently welcome only about 6000 cruise passengers each year, but are certain to be able to boost this number to about 11 000 cruise passengers over the next two or three years.

o What are the islands’ leading attributes for cruiseshippers?
The beauty and diversity of the landscape, the unspoiled beaches, and the fascination of contact with the islanders themselves. And lest I forget, the rhythm of island life. Many a visitor finds that time seems to slow, making it easier to unwind and enjoy life as it was meant to be lived! 

o What is your favourite activity for cruise passengers calling in at Îles de la Madeleine?
I believe that tourists genuinely appreciate the contact with the local people which is quite easy, really, given the size of the islands and the extent of our tourism attributes. In any case, the island winds make for an unforgettable escape!

o What is your favourite port of call restaurant?
The islands offer a diversity of restaurants, each with its own unique ambience. Depending on what I’m in the mood to eat, I love each of Le Vieux Couvent, Café de la Grave, La Salicorne, Café de la Côte.

o Have you ever been on a cruise? 
In my case, I must be one of the cobbler’s children who had to go barefoot! No, I have unfortunately never been on an international cruise but I have travelled extensively in Québec, and journeyed up and down the Saint Lawrence. I would love the experience of an international cruise, if only to better grasp the reality, better understand tourist expectations and better serve visitors as a result.

o In conclusion, what do you wish for cruiseshippers in 2010?
I hope that they will have the opportunity to discover the ever changing beauty of the Saint Lawrence. Our ports of call have all that is required to charm and fulfil the expectations of cruiseshippers one and all. 

May they take full advantage of their journey, soak up the ambience and allow themselves the pleasure of slowing the pace and moving to the rhythm of the ‘way that walks’. May all port of call coordinators also enjoy the opportunity to discover and experience the mighty Saint Lawrence!

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