ALPENA - The first arrival of the Yorktown cruiseship is still about three weeks away, but the Alpena Convention and Visitor's Bureau and Downtown Development Authority already are taking steps to make sure the passengers have a memorable time while in port.
CVB Director Mary Beth Stutzman said the first of four stops in Alpena this summer for the Yorktown will be on June 28 and it will be in town from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. She said it is an enrichment cruise, so the passengers will be focusing on attractions that have educational significance.
"I'm working on setting up transportation for the 100 or so guests and they will be going to the maritime museum, while another group goes out to the lighthouse in Presque Isle," Stutzman said. "This cruise is very specific in terms of what the passengers will take in while in Alpena and is based around education and learning. Alpena fits into that very well."
Once back at the ship the tourists may have some free time to take a stroll around the immediate vicinity and the downtown area. Stutzman said this is an opportunity for the community members to offer help if the chance arises.
"This is something the community can come together for and I think everybody is excited about the visit of the cruise ships. The best thing people can do is make the visitors feel welcome. If you see someone who might look a little lost ask them if they need some help, help them if you can, then smile and wish them a good day," Stutzman said. "By treating them well, they may become lifelong fans of Alpena and come back to visit."
Upon arrival the ship will moor on the Thunder Bay River and the DDA and CVB may have tables there with information for the guests. Stutzman said the boat also is scheduled to make stops in Alpena during the month of August. Stutzman said there are no long-term plans in place to make Alpena a permanent stop on the cruise line's route, but if it were to in the future there would be a significant impact to the local economy.
Diana Ditto, marketing manager for Travel Dynamics, said in April the cruises that feature Alpena as one of the ports are sold out. She said there is always a chance Alpena could be in line for more stops next summer.
"We are already looking at changes for 2014 and we always make them based on the popularity and from what the customer wants. The 10-day cruises which involve Lake Superior are always extra popular and that particular one includes Alpena," Ditto said. "We have a large population of birders who take the cruise and Alpena and Presque Isle are a great area for that, as well as other outdoor activities."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com