SEPT-ÎLES, May 19, 2009 – At 7 am on Tuesday, May 19, 2009, the MS Maasdam, en route from Fort Lauderdale Florida and flying the flag of the Netherlands, entered history as the first ever international cruise ship to stop over at Sept-Îles. The ship, with a capacity of 1,258 passengers and 557 crew members, sails today for Saguenay.

Note that during its 14 day trip, the ship called the Ports of Charleston, Newport, Bar Harbor, Halifax, Sydney, Charlottetown, and Gaspé. Upcoming ports of call include Saguenay, Quebec City, and Montreal.

During a special ceremony, Captain Hendrik Draper received the prestigious Gold Headed Cane, representing the Port, from Pierre D. Gagnon, President and CEO of the Port of Sept-Îles, who wished to mark this historic event with the celebrated cane traditionally reserved for the first ship of the year, in recognition of this first ever international cruise ship.

“The arrival of the MS Maasdam is the result of the dedicated efforts of the team of Destination Sept-Îles Nakauinanu, who, after two years of organizing, coordinating, and liaising between the numerous key members of our community and the cruise ship industry, can now pride themselves on a job well done. Today we can state without hesitation, mission accomplished!”, declared Mr. Gagnon.

In particular, the Board Chair of the Port of Sept-Îles, Carol Soucy, wished to applaud the contribution of Mrs. Élizabeth Blais, a pioneer in this project and member of the Port of Sept-Îles Board of Directors from 2004 to 2005. “She became involved in “Association des croisières du Saint-Laurent” in 2005 and helped establish Destination Sept-Îles Nakauinanu, where her outstanding dedication and commitment have led directly to the success we celebrate today,” said Mr. Soucy.

The Port of Sept-Îles is at the forefront of the region’s economy and plays a key role in its development. The Port’s annual economic impact has been estimated at $1 billion and includes the creation of some 4,000 direct and indirect jobs.