Detroit is Home Port for Great Lakes Cruise Ship
|Release Date: June 25, 2012|
The MV Yorktown is due to arrive by 7 a.m. today at Port Detroit downtown. Late this afternoon, it will board 138 passengers -- full capacity -- for a seven-day Great Lakes cruise.
Visitors to the Detroit River Days festival should be able to get a good view of the sleek U.S.-flagged, blue and white vessel at the dock west of the Renaissance Center.
"I think it's a real coup for Detroit," said Steve Olinek, deputy director of the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority. Port Detroit opened in June 2011 to serve Great Lakes passenger vessels.
The Yorktown already has had one opening glitch. After refrigeration and air-conditioning problems were discovered at the last minute, its June 16-23 initial Chicago-to-Detroit voyage was canceled and repairs were made.
Some of the passengers who couldn't board the ship in Chicago will join the cruise leaving Detroit today.
Yorktown is owned by Travel Dynamics International of New York. The ship's "Voyage to the Great Lakes" itinerary is Detroit to Goderich, Ontario; Manitoulin Island, Ontario; Sault Ste. Marie; Mackinac Island; Saugatuck and Chicago. It then reverses course for the next cruise back to Detroit.
At 257 feet long, 43 feet wide, and with an 8-foot draft, the ship is small enough to get into picturesque harbors like Saugatuck, where excited locals plan a boat parade and other festivities to welcome the Yorktown when it arrives in port Friday.
"She's the first U.S.-flagged ship coming here in 83 years," said Felicia Fairchild, director of the Saugatuck/Douglas Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Olinek does not know exactly when the last passenger cruises originated from Detroit but suspects it was in 1950 when the Detroit and Cleveland Navigation Co. cruises of the lakes ended.
In its heyday, Great Lakes cruising was wildly popular. From 1894 to the 1930s, thousands of passengers traveled the lakes on ships like the grand Seeandbee, which held 1,500 passengers. A 1916 poster for the Georgian Bay Line shows that you could take a seven-day Great Lakes cruise for $40.
It's a bit more expensive now. The Yorktown trips are open to everyone, but they are being marketed heavily to high-end university alumni travel groups and organizations such as the Smithsonian. Passage is $3,995-$8,695.
Yorktown will dock in Detroit not just today but also on July 7, July 21, Aug. 11 and Aug. 25.Contact Ellen Creager: 313-222-6498 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter, @ellencreager
More Details: Our own ship
• See the ship: The MV Yorktown will be docked at Port Detroit today in downtown Detroit. The dock is at 130 E. Atwater St., off the RiverWalk between the Renaissance Center and Cobo Center. Times are not absolute, but the ship should arrive by 7 a.m. and will depart between 5 and 7 p.m. The Appledore IV tall ship likely will still be docked nearby. Only passengers are allowed to board the Yorktown.
• Sail on the Yorktown out of Detroit: In addition to this week's cruise, "Voyage to the Great Lakes" sails from Detroit to Chicago on a seven-day itinerary July 7-14 and Aug. 11-18 ($3,995-$6,995). Great Lakes Grand Discovery runs 10 days from Detroit to Duluth, Minn., Aug. 1-11 ($4,995-$8,695). For details, contact Great Lakes Cruise Co. in Ann Arbor at www.greatlakescruising.com or 888-891-0203.