Shaun Stevenson is standing on a bluff above Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The cobalt waters of the Inside Passage stretch below. To the north and south, mountains rise from the water, their steep slopes rain-forest green, then erupting with jagged rock above the timberline. The 14,000-person town itself harbors a stolid brick courthouse, a huddle of shops along Cow Bay, and the new $12 million cruise-ship dock, which Stevenson―the director of business development for Prince Rupert's port―helped bring here.
"We're going to do this right," Stevenson insists. "Prince Rupert will not become a carnival town. No, we're adamant about preserving what we have."
It may seem strange that a city so far north that its nearest well-known neighbor is Ketchikan, Alaska, has become a hot ticket. But that's happening. This summer, 75,000 tourists and 20,000 crew are expected to disembark in Prince Rupert. They'll find a city that is a stirring blend of cultures―Tsimshian, British, and, of course, Canadian― in a setting that ranks among the most beautiful places on earth.