Port of Cleveland welcomed first Great Lakes cruise ship of 2017 season

The Port of Cleveland welcomed the Victory 1 cruise ship to its docks June 20—marking the addition of Cleveland to Victory Cruise Lines Great Lakes Grand Discovery tour of the Great Lakes. The 10-day tour on the 105-room, 200-passenger liner highlights attractions along the Great Lakes in both the U.S. and Canada, starting in Toronto and concluding in Chicago, with stops at major destinations such as Niagara Falls, the Georgian Bay and Mackinac Island along the way.

Cruise ships in the Great Lakes are a growing industry, with revenues in the tens of millions. Those involved in the industry—from Victory to Great Lakes ports to visitors bureaus—all see the potential to nurture an untapped market that boasts a number of stellar destination cities and venues.

“The Port of Cleveland was excited to work with Victory Cruise Lines, the City of Cleveland, Destination Cleveland and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to make this possible,” said Will Friedman, Port of Cleveland President and CEO. “We are thrilled to welcome the Victory 1 and the thousands of visitors that will dock at the Port of Cleveland over the course of the touring season. The Port of Cleveland will continue to do its part to help grow and diversify northeast Ohio’s economy—in everything from industry to tourism and beyond.”

The Port of Cleveland praised the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents for working with the port to provide staffing and technology that would accommodate the cruise ships docking at the port.

“Because the ships originate in Canada and are crossing an international border—we share the Great Lakes with Canada, of course—passengers must go through passport control on arrival at a U.S. port,” said Friedman. “U.S. Customs and Border Protection is using an innovative method to ensure that we can receive passengers in Cleveland while maintaining border integrity.”

Victory Cruise Lines is an international cruise line with a diverse menu of itineraries focusing on Colonial America, Canada and Cuba. Bruce Nierenberg, President and CEO of Victory Cruise Lines, added Cleveland as a stop this season because he sees it as a city on the rise.

“I asked our people, ‘Why don’t we stop there?'” said Nierenberg. “Cleveland is an up-and-coming city; they’ve got the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And there are a lot of other things to do in Cleveland, so I thought it would be a really good stop.”

The company’s website also highlights the Great Lakes Science Center, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Orchestra, West Side Market and William G. Mather Steamship as attractions in Cleveland for those who join the cruise.

“Following a banner year in 2016, Cleveland’s continued rise as a travel destination is receiving another boost with the addition of our city to a major Great Lakes cruise line itinerary,” said David Gilbert, President and CEO, Destination Cleveland. “We are eager to continue our partnership with civic and business leaders to drive a diverse array of tourists to the Northeast Ohio region via all modes of transportation—including cruise ships.”

City of Cleveland officials are also excited about the addition of the cruise line.

“We have so much to offer with our culture, history, entertainment and our people. It’s encouraging that more and more travelers are seeing Cleveland as a must-see city of choice,” said Robert Kennedy, Director of City of Cleveland’s Port Control. “We thank Victory Cruise Lines for helping to add to our rise as a tourist destination.”

Maritime Editorial