Viking Octantis Cruise Cuts through Fog to Deliver Visitors New to Duluth
7-9 ships will stop in Duluth monthly.
DULUTH, Minn.- Despite the fog making it a little hard to see early Monday morning, passengers on the first cruise ship to sail into Duluth since 2013 made landfall, ready for their daylong excursions throughout the city.
The horn of the Viking Octantis was more of a signal of its arrival than anything else, as it moved through Monday’s murky fog like a phantom.
“It was very foggy so it was kind of like a movie where it was very foggy and then all of a sudden the ship appeared,” said Tricia Hobbs, Duluth’s Senior Economic Developer.
Passengers inside, like Andy and Janet Vesper from Massachusetts, still a got a hazy glimpse of Twin Ports staples.
“Looked out a few times from state room and it was all white, couldn’t see anything and I saw some lights flashing and I realized, oh that’s the lighthouse,” Andy said.
The 700-foot vessel inched under the Aerial Lift Bridge. From the ground, it almost appeared to have little headroom.
“I think there was a lot of not seeing it but it was also cool to see that row of lights and you’ve heard, I’ve heard the size, it’s over 600 ft long,” said Dan Hartman, DECC Executive Director.
“But it’s vastly different when you see in person just the sheer height of it and the magnitude as it came through the Lift Bridge it was like, wow,” he said.
The 400 passengers had to get on one of 2 tender boats — smaller orange vessels that brought them to shore — to go through the new required U.S. Customs Boarder Facility in the DECC.
The small transport boats are a temporary solution since the water behind the DECC is too shallow and the deteriorating seawall needs reconstruction to dock ships that size.
Monday served as a test of this system going forward.
“I’m excited for what I call the 2nd ship because then we’ll know where it’s going to go and then we’ll have this whole thing mapped out we want to make it kind of into a celebration we;re even debating make it kind of into a cruising party, we’ll see how this goes,” said Hartman.
Mayor Emily Larson, Duluth officials, and other ambassadors greeted the passengers with “Welcome to Duluth” signs, and connected them to their day-trips.
“From my chair I was really thinking about how we best commuincate with our business commuinty and so knowing that this first one timelines were a little vague and wide so we just really wanted folks to know this is when people are arriving this is how many people you can expect,” Hobbs said.
The Vespers have relatives in Minnesota, however it’s their first time up in the Northland.
“We’re going to do the tour called In the Footsteps of the Fur Traders,” said Andy. “And it includes canoeing and we are canoers so even if it stays foggy or ends up raining we’re willing to canoe no matter what,” Janet added.
Those, like Hobbs, who were behind making the cruise ship idea float already expect the 7-9 monthly ships provide a big boost to the economy.
“We’re writing a new chapter with cruising and we’re obviously looking ahead to opportunities to be a turnaround port in the future so people can start and end their trips here,” she said.