By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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Just more than a dozen Port Angeles area business owners, city staff and residents gathered Friday for a Cruise Ship Organizing Committee meeting at the Vern Burton Community Center to discuss how best to welcome the 13 separate American Cruise Lines cruises that will call at both Port Angeles and Port Townsend this April, May, September and October.
In a separate interview, Christina Pivarnik, marketing director for the City of Port Townsend, said she is not ready to release specific information on what Port Townsend has planned for the 13 waves of cruise passengers as she has not yet heard input back from the cruise line.
“We have three or four options for welcoming them, and we’re waiting for input back from them,” Pivarnik said Friday.
No final decisions were made at the Friday Port Angeles cruise committee meeting.
Russ Veenema, executive director of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of the cruise committee, said the committee will next meet March 21 to make final decisions on cruise passenger activities and programs.
Though the 205-foot, 100-passenger American Spirit will first come into City Pier in downtown Port Angeles between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. April 29, cruise committee members agreed welcomers should be posted on the pier with pamphlets and brochures to welcome any cruise passengers who might want to get off the ship to stretch their legs.
“I would like to have some sort of community presence just so they don’t come into a dark pier,” Veenema said.
Brenda Francis, spokeswoman for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, said tribal elders are planning to meet the American Spirit at City Pier and offer a traditional tribal welcome.
The American Spirit will dock in Port Angeles on 13 Mondays: April 29 and May 6, 13, 20 and 27; Sept. 9, 16, 23 and 30; and Oct. 7, 14, 21 and 28, stay Tuesday, and leave for Port Townsend on Wednesday at noon.
The ship will call in Port Townsend at 5 p.m. each Wednesday, stay through Thursday and depart at 4 a.m. Friday.
Committee members agreed cruise passengers should have a mix of structured activities to do with some time built in to simply explore Port Angeles and the surrounding area.
Members also expect between 30 and 50 percent cruise passengers to board the MV Coho their first day in Port Angeles and visit Victoria, which committee members generally agreed should be promoted.
“It’s not our responsibility to dissuade them from using the Coho,” Veenema said.
Other committee ideas include organized tours to Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park, tours of local wineries with possible cooking demonstrations and on-board entertainment for the cruise passengers from local bands.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.