Nearly 100 people arrived in Rochester on the Grande Mariner Wednesday night. The 184-square foot vessel is a member of one of the newest capital ventures on the Great Lakes: cruise ships.
“This is not a brass band type of development it's a long-term very careful, groundbreaking type of a business,” says Stephen Burdett, executive director of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition, an enterprise which began seven years ago.
“We are a group of American and Canadian ports,” says Burdett, “We're encouraging them to think about the Great Lakes as a tourism opportunity.”
On Thursday, Mayor Bob Duffy announced Rochester’s membership to the coalition. Rochester will now be a designated stopping point on the tour; it joins cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, Erie and Chicago. The idea behind the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition is to encourage smaller cruise ships that are popular on Europe’s waterways to cruise the Great Lakes.
“We are listed in the book, as a destination point and it my hope, if you close your eyes, that maybe a few years down the road, you'll see more improvements to our Port area,” says Duffy.
Wednesday’s stop in Rochester will be the last the Grande Mariner will make in September but it, as well as other ships similar to it, are expected back in the Port of Rochester next season.
“I wanted to see the Great Lakes. This is not an area I know real well and my husband has never been to some of the places we've been,” says Virginia Cox, a passenger from Tuskaloosa, Georgia.
“I think it's about time that you do this sort of Great Lakes trip where we can hit all of them,” says Arlene Thompson, a passenger from Racine, Wisconsin.
For more information on the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition call: 1-800-556-7450 or visit: www.glcc-smallships.com