By Jeremy Schwartz and Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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The April 15 stop is one of 10 visits added — doubling the number of visits from last year — to the 2014 itinerary of the 205-foot cruise vessel American Spirit after the inaugural Puget Sound/San Juan Island cruise series that included stops in Port Angeles and Port Townsend last year, said Don Johnson, West Coast operations manager for the cruise line.
“The Puget Sound/San Juan Island trips are doing very well,” Johnson said Friday.
Johnson said 82 passengers have reserved berths on the American Spirit's first 2014 trip to Port Angeles.
It will continue to Port Townsend on April 17.
The ship is expected to dock at City Pier in Port Angeles at about 2 p.m. Tuesdays in April, May, June, September and October, as well as the first Tuesday in November.
The vessel, which Johnson captains, is expected in Port Townsend every Thursday morning in the same weeks as the Port Angeles stops.
The cruises, beginning and ending in Seattle, also stop in Anacortes, Friday Harbor and Poulsbo.
The American Spirit, which can carry 98 passengers, is expected to come to Port Angeles and Port Townsend 10 times each this spring — from the third week in April through the third week in June — and 10 times in the fall.
The American Spirit stopped in Port Angeles and Port Townsend only 10 times last year: weekly in May and September, and for the first two weeks of October last year.
Russ Veenema, executive director of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the changes will allow Port Angeles-area musical acts to provide onboard entertainment two nights per week, as opposed to just one night per week last year.
Port Angeles City Councilman Patrick Downie said he is finalizing local acts to perform Tuesday and Wednesday evenings aboard the vessel.
“We are pleased that they're going to be in port for two evenings,” Downie said.
For activities off the boat, Veenema said he has lined up the same tours and offerings available to cruise passengers last year.
These include a bus tour up to Hurricane Ridge hosted by Willie Nelson's All Points Charters & Tours, a downtown walking tour led by Heritage Tours owner Don Perry on Tuesdays and an opportunity to visit Victoria on the MV Coho ferry Wednesdays.
If Hurricane Ridge is closed by poor weather, Veenema said he plans an alternative outing that would take cruisers east to a Sequim lavender farm and Railroad Bridge Park — and potentially a local Sequim winery.
Just like last year, Veenema said he is looking forward to an influx of people exploring the greater Port Angeles area.
“It's essentially like having a small convention in town every week, and that's a good thing,” Veenema said.
Veenema and Downie had estimated last year that the 2013 visits had roughly $96,000 worth of impact on the Port Angeles community.
“We hope that we can have as successful of a season with them as we did last year,” Downie said.
In Port Townsend, cruise ship passengers will be offered a downtown walking tour, an uptown bus tour and a tour of Fort Worden State Park — in addition to shopping and eating out at area restaurants.
Events were organized by the city of Port Townsend last year. This year, the Jefferson County Historical Society has taken over the job.
“Since we provide most of the excursions, it was decided we would be key people to coordinate with the cruise ship line,” said Bill Tennent, executive director of the historical society.
This season, the cruise ship will be docked for less time than last year, when passengers had two evenings and a full day in Port Townsend.
This year, the ship will arrive at about 10 a.m. each Thursday and leave by 4 a.m. the next day.
“We're not exactly sure how the new schedule will affect the tours,” Tennent said.
Entertainment will be provided Thursday nights aboard the ship, he said.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Port Townsend/Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at email@example.com.