Wind-delayed cruise ship due in Port Angeles around 9:30 a.m. today
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The American Spirit, seen at left in this Friday Harbor webcam image midday Monday, remained overnight in Friday Harbor, where top wind gusts were logged around 18 mph — about half of the winds in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

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CORRECTION — This story has been corrected to read that the cruise ship will leave Port Townsend early Friday morning, not early Thursday.

A small cruise ship today officially begins the North Olympic Peninsula's reinvigorated cruise-ship season.

But gale-force winds on the Strait of Juan de Fuca will delay its Port Angeles arrival till midmorning.

The delay will shorten its visit to Port Townsend later in the week.

The American Spirit originally was due to dock at Port Angeles City Pier on Monday night from Friday Harbor, which was the Day 3 stop for American Cruise Lines' 2013 Puget Sound/San Juan Island tour that lasts eight days and seven nights.

But winds Monday afternoon gusting up to 40 mph — and consistently hovering around 28 mph — kept the ship at Friday Harbor and delays the arrival at City Pier until around 9:30 a.m. today, said Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce Russ Veenema.

Veenema is assisting shore activities for the ship's Port Angeles arrival.

The National Weather Service forecast winds in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca to diminish by this morning to around 15 mph. Light winds are expected today.

The ship spends the day today in Port Angeles, with visits to downtown merchants and tours to Olympic National Park, casinos and other Clallam attractions.

It is scheduled to depart Port Angeles this evening and arrive at Union Wharf in Port Townsend around midnight for a daylong Wednesday visit that ends with an early Friday departure after spending all day Thursday in the Victoria seaport.

Jefferson County Historical Society docents in Victorian costumes will greet the ship, and back on board American Spirit, Key City Public Theatre of Port Townsend will perform a special cabaret show after dinner Wednesday evening.

Compared with large cruise ships that soon will be plying the Strait of Juan de Fuca for spring-summer Inside Passage cruises to Alaska, the American Spirit is a boutique cruise ship that carries up to 100 passengers in 51 staterooms for fares ranging from $3,750 to $4,985 per person depending on accommodations, according to the company's website,

At 205 feet long, the tri-deck American Spirit is 69 feet shorter than the Kwa-di Tabil-class of state ferries that ply the Port Townsend-Whidbey Island route.

It also is 136 feet shorter than the MV Coho ferry that operates between Port Angeles and Victoria.

American Cruise Lines has scheduled 12 additional visits to Port Angeles and Port Townsend through the end of October.

The tour departed Seattle on Saturday and spent Sunday in Anacortes.

The ship sailed through the San Juans to Friday Harbor on Monday.

After departing Port Townsend in the wee hours of Thursday, American Spirit takes passengers on a daylong cruise of Puget Sound along Whidbey Island, Deception Pass and the Skagit County coastline before arriving in Poulsbo on Friday, Day 7.

The cruise ends where it began — Seattle — on Saturday.

Last modified: April 30. 2013 11:38AM
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