By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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Mari Mullen, executive director of the Port Townsend Main Street Program, said Wednesday afternoon that signs welcoming the 40 passengers of the 205-foot American Cruise Lines vessel American Spirit had been distributed to merchants across the city in preparation for the docking of the ship at Union Wharf late Wednesday night after it sails from Port Angeles.
“I think everyone is really looking forward to having them here,” Mullen said.
“There's excitement about it. It's a wonderful thing for the off-season,” she said.
Christina Pivarnik, marketing director of the city of Port Townsend, will welcome passengers at a breakfast onboard this morning before a walking tour of the Victorian seaport, led by docents from the Jefferson Historical Society, starts at 9 a.m.
Passengers then will be offered a tour by van of historic uptown starting at 10:30 a.m., Pivarnik said, or they can take part in a tour of the Northwest Marine Center that also starts at 10:30 a.m.
Visitors will get the chance to experience the marine center's newest attraction, Pivarnik said, which simulates a pilot house on a ship.
Fort Worden State Park sights will be offered on a tour scheduled from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, and after dinner, the Captains of Swing, a jazz trio of local musicians, will perform aboard the ship.
These organized activities also are slated for the American Spirit's four visits this month as part of eight-day Puget Sound cruises that start and end in Seattle each week.
Other scheduled Port Townsend cruise ship visit dates are Wednesday and May 15, 22 and 29; Sept. 11, 18 and 25; and Oct. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30.
The cruise ship ran light this first visit, Pivarnik said, but subsequent cruises are expected to carry up to the vessel's 100-passenger capacity.
The activities planned in Port Townsend may change come autumn, Pivarnik added.
“We're pleased with what we are offering, but we may tweak it come fall,” she said.
To further promote the city, the Main Street program has created a coupon discount book for shopping and dining, Pivarnik said, which has been distributed to cruise passengers.
Mullen said Main Street program volunteers organized the coupon books, which feature deals and specials from 42 uptown and downtown businesses.
The point of the coupon books is to entice the cruise passengers into local shops and stores and, ideally, make them want to come back.
“I think the personality of our stores, you really can't copy it anywhere,” Mullen said.
The American Spirit is set to leave Port Townsend at about 4 a.m. Friday, Capt. Don Johnson said.
The cruise ship first stopped on the North Olympic Peninsula on Tuesday in Port Angeles at about 9:30 a.m.
The American Spirit was supposed to have arrived 12 hours earlier, but high winds along the Strait of Juan de Fuca kept the ship in Friday Harbor longer than expected.
Cruise passengers were taken on a tour of historic “underground” Port Angeles by Heritage Tours owner Don Perry and on bus tours highlighting Hurricane Ridge and the Elwha River dam removal and restoration project by Willie Nelson, owner of All Points Charters & Tours.
After Port Townsend, the vessel's next port of call is Poulsbo on the Kitsap Peninsula as part of the Puget Sound-centered cruise that will bring passengers back to Seattle, where they started the eight-day excursion, this weekend.
The American Spirit will next stop in Port Angeles on Monday, with other visits scheduled for May 13, 20 and 27; Sept. 9, 16, 23 and 30; and Oct. 7, 14, 21 and 28.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.