Passenger transport:

Passenger transport on the St. Lawrence includes ferries, international cruise ships and tour boats.

Ferries, shuttles, and remote service

Photo credit: STQ
Photo credit: STQ
Ferry and shuttle services are provided by several companies, but the leading company is the Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ), a provincial government-owned enterprise that operates, on its own and in partnership, a network of 9 ferry services that extends all the way from Montreal to the Lower North Shore and the Magdalen Islands in eastern Quebec. Its role is essential to improve access to isolated regions, help decongest some major highways and to connect urban public transit systems.

Every year STQ offers more than 115 000 crossings and transports more than 3.2 million passengers and 2 million vehicles.

Waterway tourism

In 2011, the tourism industry yielded 12.4 billion dollars in Quebec, representing 2.45% of the province’s global economy.

Waterway tourism contributes significantly to tourism development in Quebec because of its wide range of unique and unforgettable activities for international travellers, as well as for Canadian and Quebecer visitors.

North America is one of the most favorite destinations for the cruise industry and Quebec is part of it.

The government’s strategy for developing tourism in the St. Lawrence helped to put back Quebec on the agenda of international cruise lines.

Quebec’s national parks, marine mammal observation and sea kayaking are among the favorite activities that attract travellers to Quebec.

International cruises:

In 2016:

  • International cruises generated an income (both direct and indirect) of more than 500 million dollars in Quebec, an increase of 76% since 2012
  • 28 cruise ships visited the St. Lawrence with a total of 250 000 passengers and 98 000 crew members on board, an increase of 10% compared to 2012
  • No less than 312 calls had been registered in 9 different ports
  • More than 2/3 of all visitors stopped at the port of Quebec and Montreal, but new destinations (Trois-Rivières, Saguenay, Baie-Comeau, Sept-Îles, Gaspé) developed over the last years, bring significant economic benefits to these regions
  • The international cruise industry generates 3 700 jobs, of which more than 1 000 direct jobs
  • Passengers spent on average 299.75$ during their stay in Quebec.

Cruise the Saint-Lawrence, Supremely succesfull 2016 cruise season

Tourisme Québec, Stratégie de mise en valeur du Saint-Laurent touristique 2014-2020 et plan d’action 2014-2017
Veille touristique sur la Saint-Laurent – juillet 2017

Comité sectoriel de Main-d’Oeuvre de l’industrie maritime, Étude sectorielle sur les effectifs maritimes au Québec, 2013


Boat tours and river cruises

Cruise tours include all types of cruises on the river lasting from a few hours to several days. Half of all cruise tour companies offer tours of less than 2 hours (boat tours). Landscape (e.g. national parks) and wildlife (whale watching) sightseeing are the main activities.

River cruises are cruises that last more than one day and that offer accommodation. Usually points of origin and destination are not the same. These types of cruises are most commonly offered in the estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

  • In Quebec, there are more than 75 companies offering cruise tours. Together they operate a fleet of 150 boats ranging from zodiac to cruise ships.
  • In 2011, nearly 900 000 passengers participated in a cruise tour.
  • 52 000 people attended a river cruise.

Source: Tourisme Québec, Stratégie de mise en valeur du Saint-Laurent touristique 2014-2020 et plan d’action 2014-2017