Making a grand entrance
MANISTIQUE – The Yorktown made its way into Manistique Sunday, dazzling spectators as it drifted offshore near the marina. The ship, part of the Great Lakes Cruise Company fleet, will be making another stop this month, and four more next year, according to city officials.
The massive cruise ship landed in Manistique at 8 a.m., anchoring near the lighthouse and “tendering” or boating its passengers onto shore. The ship had originally planned to dock in the marina, but last minute issues made that impossible.
According to City Manager Sheila Aldrich, a company had recently been testing depths along the Manistique River, coming across a build up of sand along the mouth of the river. She said after speaking with the captain of the Yorktown, it was decided that the ship would anchor off shore and tender in.
The ship had considered also docking at Port Inland, in Gulliver, but this plan was nixed by the tour bus company contracted by the ship for its passengers.
Despite the set backs, Aldrich said the passengers were not phased by the ride in.
“I talked to all of them, off and on … they classified it as a ‘luxury tender’ compared to the other places they’ve gone,” she said. “I guess it isn’t unusual for them to tender in … a lot of times, they have to take off their shoes and wade in … They told me not to apologize for it.”
The ship will have to follow the same procedure Monday when it returns to the area.
“I’ve spoken with the Army Corps (of Engineers) and the process that we would have to go through and the permitting … we cannot get it done by next Monday,” she said.
Aldrich added the sand build-up problem is one the city will want to fix by next year, when the ship plans to make four stops to the area.
“We’re certainly looking at what we can do,” she said. “We want to be able to get them up to our dock.”
The ship used two of its own boats to carry approximately 120 passengers into Manistique. With 12 passengers per boat, the process took approximately one hour, Aldrich explained.
“It worked well,” she said.
The passengers, many of them Harvard and Stanford alumni, were thoroughly impressed with the area, Aldrich said.
“When they came back, I asked them what they thought of the two sites that they went out to see, and they raved about the Big Springs, and Fayette, too,” she explained.
While the ship’s passengers were only in the area from 8 a.m. until noon, Aldrich said they expect them to stay longer on Monday – from noon until around 6 p.m. Longer trips may be planned in the future.
“We would expect that to have more of an impact on the downtown,” she said. “We’ll work with their tour manager in New York and see, if when we get them in next year, that we can get it arranged so that they’re in Manistique a little longer.”