By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“They were delightful,” said Molly Klupfell, who manages the Chandlery at the Northwest Maritime Center, 431 Water St.
“They bought a lot of scarves and nautical gifts, and seemed to really enjoy themselves.”
The cruise ship docked in Port Townsend after a visit to Port Angeles from Monday through noon Wednesday.
It was the first of the fall cruises to the North Olympic Peninsula by American Cruise Lines, based in Seattle.
The ship also brought cruise passengers to Port Angeles and Port Townsend the last week of April and throughout May.
It is slated to visit Port Angeles and Port Townsend through this month and two weeks in October as part of an eight-day tour of the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound.
The cruises, beginning and ending in Seattle, also stop in Anacortes, Friday Harbor and Poulsbo.
Don Johnson, vessel captain and the West Coast manager of American Cruise Lines, said earlier in the summer the visits during the first week of this month were added and the last two visits in October canceled because of the greater popularity of the earlier cruises.
The 100-passenger-capacity vessel brought 83 visitors this trip and will bring 85 and 90, respectively, on the next two visits this month, Johnson said.
Port of Port Townsend Deputy Director Jim Pivarnik said the cruises have been so successful that port officials are talking with a second cruise line about the possibility of stopping in Port Townsend next summer.
“It's been a good thing for the city since the dock has never been used like this before and a good thing for the port because we get $500 every time a cruise ship docks here,” Pivarnik said.
The cruise ship is expected to leave Port Townsend on Friday and return next Wednesday, as well as Sept. 18 and 25, and Oct. 2, 9 and 16.
The American Spirit will next stop in Port Angeles next Monday and return Sept. 16, 23 and 30, and Oct. 7 and 14.
In addition to tours of Port Townsend, Fort Worden and other opportunities, passengers will be able to visit the Concert on the Dock from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. today at the Pope Marine Plaza on the downtown waterfront, Water and Monroe streets, said Christina Pivarnik, city marketing director.
That was something that wasn't offered in the spring.
“Tonight will be Concerts on the Dock, which they haven't gotten to experience,” she said.
“Business was slow in the spring, so it helped us when they came in,” said Kim Thomson, owner of Thomson Art Forms, 833 Water St., on Wednesday.
“They bought a lot of wool scarves and other items.”
Klupfell said passengers bought a lot of sweaters and jackets, probably because they didn't know how windy Port Townsend can be.
“We had a sales increase when they were here before,” said Janice Gruber, a member of the Port Townsend Gallery, 715 Water St.
“They all like to come in and look around.”
Many merchants said the passengers stayed away from larger items, sticking to things they could carry.
“They come in and look around a lot but don't buy much,” said Janice Eklund, a sales clerk at the Green Eyeshade, 720 Water St.
“They don't want to get anything that is too heavy or hard to move.”
Said Polly Longcrier, a clerk at Elevated Ice Cream at 627 Water St.: “We've had a great year. I don't know how much had to do with the cruise ships.
“I can't always tell them apart from our other customers.”
Jefferson County Historical Society Director Bill Tennent said the cruise passengers “are amazed that there is so much to do.
“They always ask how we've been able to preserve what we have. I tell them it's because of regulations and constant vigilance,” he said.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.