By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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The Connecticut-based company last week announced the addition of the extra layover while cruise line representatives and North Olympic Peninsula tourism and city officials firmed up plans for the 100-passenger American Spirit to visit the North Olympic Peninsula.
The cruises in April, May, September and October will begin in Seattle and make subsequent stops in Anacortes, Friday Harbor, Port Angeles, Port Townsend and Poulsbo before returning to Seattle.
“We’ve got quite a bit of demand for the cruise, so they decided to add one more,” company spokeswoman Britt Rabinovici said last week.
The 200-foot American Spirit will dock at City Pier in downtown Port Angeles at 9:30 a.m. on 13 mostly consecutive Mondays: April 29 and May 6, 13, 20 and 27; Sept. 9, 16, 23 and 30; and Oct. 7, 14, 21 and 28.
During each weekly cruise, the ship will stay in Port Angeles all day Tuesday and leave for Port Townsend at noon Wednesday.
It will arrive in Port Townsend at 5 p.m. each Wednesday, stay docked there through Thursday and leave at 4 a.m. Friday.
American Cruise Line officials confirmed the schedule Friday in a noon conference call with Port Angeles City Councilman Patrick Downie, city Parks and Recreation Director Corey Delikat and Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Russ Veenema.
Veenema said in a later interview that he will be sending the company potential shoreline itineraries for American Spirit passengers along with brochures and DVDs about the North Olympic Peninsula.
The 13 trips are “essentially an ongoing event that happens a day and a half at a time through those dates,” Veenema said.
The newly formed Cruise Ship Organizing Committee will meet within the next two weeks “hopefully to fine-tune what the community will offer when these people arrive,” he added.
The committee includes Downie, Delikat, city Director of Community and Economic Development Nathan West, Port Angeles Downtown Association Executive Director Barbara Frederick and community volunteers Leslie and Howard Fisher.
It also includes Diane Schostak, executive director of the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau, which covers Clallam and Jefferson counties.
“We’ll see impacts from people coming and visiting, and of course that generates interest in repeat business,” Schostak said.
“This kind of helps build a reputation for our community as cruise-friendly, especially for the smaller cruises,” she added.
When Holland America’s 1,848-passenger Oosterdam docked April 18 at the Port of Port Angeles Terminal 1 commercial dock, passengers walked about a half-dozen blocks through an industrial area to reach the downtown core’s restaurants and shops.
“Having the boat dock at City Pier puts them right downtown,” Schostak said.
“It’s a great segue from City Pier to the downtown corridor, to The Gateway [transit] center, public transportation,” she said.
Ashley Turney, American Cruise Line’s shore excursion and entertainment coordinator, said a trip to Hurricane Ridge already is being planned and that the company has been working with Downie in Port Angeles and the historical society in Port Townsend to make the North Olympic Peninsula legs of the excursions a success.
Cruise line passengers focus on viewing natural wonders and learning about the history of places they visit, so Port Townsend’s Victorian-themed, seaport-oriented downtown should be an attraction, Turney said.
“That’s a very unique community there, and our passengers love that type of thing,” she added.
“We try to offer some excursions with a history base or something about the natural surroundings, that type of thing, depending on the port.
“Our passengers like to go off the beaten path,” she added.
“We’ll be working with the chambers and convention and visitor bureaus to really figure out what we want to highlight and feature in the shoreline excursions.
“We’re just making sure all the details are taken care of so the product is as seamless and as successful as it can be.”
The American Spirit offers seven-night cruises for $3,750-$4,985 a person, depending on accommodations, and offers minimal activities onboard.
During the cruises, passengers spend about 20 percent of the time in transit and 80 percent of the time docked in various ports, while the industry standard is 80 percent traveling and 20 percent docked, company officials said.
American Cruise Lines caters to passengers in their 50s and 60s.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.