Ports o' call: Series of 13 cruise ship visits begins this week in Port Angeles, Port Townsend
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And for once, the number 13 is lucky.
Port Angeles and Port Townsend officials are ready to greet cruise ship passengers on the American Spirit, a 100-passenger vessel operated by American Cruise Lines, which will dock in the two North Olympic Peninsula cities this week for the first of 13 visits through October.
Organizers in both communities have prepared unique experiences designed to give visitors a taste of the distinctive flavor and character of their towns.
“The fact that they are coming in 13 times is terrific,” said Russ Veenema, executive director of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“We hope this helps open doors for this cruise line coming back more often and gets the word out that we would welcome other cruise lines visiting Port Angeles.”
That sentiment was echoed by Christina Pivarnik, marketing director of city of Port Townsend.
“This is a really great opportunity to welcome guests to our area,” Pivarnik said.
“It's an economic development opportunity. . . . We want them to come and fall in love with the area and come back and stay longer.”
The ship is running light this first week, Pivarnik said, at about half-capacity.
The 205-foot boat is scheduled to dock at City Pier in Port Angeles on 13 Mondays beginning this Monday evening — arriving sometime between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. — stay through Tuesday and leave for Port Townsend at noon the following Wednesday,
It is expected to arrive in Port Townsend at 5 p.m. Wednesday, stay through Thursday and depart at 4 a.m. Friday.
Other dates for arrival in Port Angeles are May 6, 13, 20 and 27; Sept. 9, 16, 23 and 30; and Oct. 7, 14, 21 and 28.
Other dates for arrival in Port Townsend are May 8, 15, 22 and 29; Sept. 11, 18 and 25; and Oct. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30.
The visits will be part of eight-day round-trip cruises from Seattle that will explore Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands, with Port Angeles the point farthest west on the itinerary.
Passengers also will visit Anacortes, Friday Harbor and Poulsbo on the cruise, which costs between $3,750-$4,985 a person depending on accommodations, according to the company's website, www.americancruiselines.com.
Welcomers will be posted on City Pier on Monday night to make sure any travelers who get off to stretch their legs get information about activities, Veenema said.
The next day, welcome tents — a portable visitor center — will be set up under the pavilion at City Pier.
Visitors can get welcome bags, brochures and information about tours offered of area sights.
Visitors can tour Hurricane Ridge or Lake Crescent to enjoy local wines as well as sites of the Elwha River dam removal — the largest in the nation's history — in Olympic National Park.
They can visit the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center with its outdoors art exhibit or explore native culture at the Lower Elwha Heritage Center or casino, take a Heritage Tour of the downtown or visit the Feiro Marine Life Center and the Olympic Coast Discovery Center.
They also may want to travel on the MV Coho to spend the day in Victoria, Veenema said.
Jefferson County Historical Society docents in Victorian costumes will greet the boat when it docks at Union Wharf in Port Townsend on Wednesday, Pivarnik said.
The Key City Public Theatre will perform a special cabaret show on board the ship after dinner that evening.
The next day, docents will guide a historic walking tour of the Victoria seaport's downtown at 9 a.m. and offer an uptown tour by van later in the day.
A tour of the Northwest Maritime Center and the new pilot house simulator — which evokes a pilot house on a ship — is planned at 10:30 a.m., Pivarnik said.
Fort Worden State Park sights will be offered on a tour scheduled from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, and after dinner, a jazz trio of local musicians will perform aboard the ship.
The Port Townsend Main Street program has created a coupon discount book for shopping and dining, Pivarnik said, and merchants will put out welcome signs.
Shuttle vans have been provided at great discounts by retirement facilities Seaport Landing Retirement and Assisted Living Community and Discovery View, Pivarnik said.
The activities planned in Port Townsend may change come autumn, Pivarnik said.
“We're pleased with what we are offering, but we may tweak it come fall,” she said.
Last modified: April 27. 2013 5:57PM