Commissionaires are helping restart Nova Scotia by supporting the return of cruise passengers

The security team at the Port of Halifax is made up of commissionaires, an experienced breed of security guards and patrol officers who protect some of Nova Scotia’s most well-known people and properties.

They are helping restart Nova Scotia’s economy by supporting the return of cruise passengers, a key tourist group that has been missing from the economy since the onset of COVID-19 in 2020.

The Halifax cruise season kicked off on April 26 with the arrival of Norwegian Getaway and Ocean Navigator, two ships with a combined capacity of 5,000 passengers.

Commissionaires were essential in maintaining a high level of security and visitor satisfaction throughout the day. They helped welcome and process passengers upon arrival and then screened guests returning to their ship.

“We are fortunate to have a diligent security team dedicated to the safety and security of Halifax Port Authority staff, visitors, and cruise guests,” says Aaron Dickson, Manager of Security and Emergency Preparedness for the Halifax Port Authority. “Commissionaires play an important role in our day-to-day cruise operations. They ensure the protection of people, property, and assets.”

Commissionaires at the Port go above and beyond their duties, which include surveillance monitoring, exterior patrolling, and cruise ship access control. They are often among the first locals seen by visitors, so commissionaires frequently double as Nova Scotia ambassadors and navigators.

Being a commissionaire means being a part of Commissionaires Nova Scotia (CNS), an 85-year-old institution known for its roots in providing meaningful employment to military veterans. Today, CNS is a multifaceted security firm employing 1,400 people from all walks of life.

“Our commissionaires bring many talents to their role. Some members of our team working at the Port are former sailors, but we hire anyone with an interest in preserving the safety and security of Nova Scotians,” says Geoff Hamilton, CEO of Commissionaires Nova Scotia.

“Commissionaires find their work very rewarding. If you’re looking for a meaningful way to contribute to your community, I would encourage you to apply.”

Commissionaires have provided security services at the Port of Halifax for two decades. It is an important job considering that Halifax is the marquee cruise port in Atlantic Canada, welcoming hundreds of thousands of cruise guests in a typical year.

The cruise industry is a major contributor to the local tourism economy. The economic benefit for the Halifax area in 2019 was an estimated $165 million, according to figures released by the Port. Commissionaires support this economic activity by providing trusted security services to the Port and its guests from away.

46 full-time commissionaires work at the Port year-round. An extra 40-50 commissionaires are typically added during the six-month cruise season. After two years without cruise, the CNS team is ready to respond to a tourism rebound. There are 152 ships expected to call on the Port this cruise season.

As activity at the Port ramps up and Nova Scotia’s economy transitions beyond COVID-19, commissionaires are proud to ensure the Port remains a safe, welcoming destination for workers and visitors alike.