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Last cruise ship docks in Escanaba

Brian Rowell Daily Press The last American Queen Voyages cruise ship — the Ocean Voyager — docked in Escanaba Monday. American Queen Voyages announced earlier this year that it was ending its Great Lakes cruises and cruises wouldn’t be returning to Escanaba in 2024. The last schedule docking in Escanaba was Monday.

ESCANABA — The last American Queen Voyages cruise ship docked in Escanaba Monday. According to the company’s schedule, the October 2 arrival of the Ocean Voyager was the last scheduled docking in Escanaba for the 2023 season.

The cruise ships won’t be returning in 2024. Earlier this year, American Queen Voyages announced it would be discontinuing its Great Lakes cruise and selling its two Great Lake cruise ships — the Ocean Navigator and Ocean Voyager. The company cited maintenance costs for the ships when they could only be in use for part of the year. At the time of the announcement, American Queen Voyages said the company was going to focus on river cruises.

Throughout the summer, the Ocean Navigator and Ocean Voyager docked in Escanaba a total of 28 times this summer and fall. Each ship had the capacity for about 200 passengers. The cruise line’s 28 visits was initially projected to have an economic impact of $1.25 million to the Escanaba area.

The first cruise ship to dock in Escanaba — the Ocean Navigator — arrived at North Shore Marine Terminal & Logistics Dock on May 14, Mothers Day. Passengers and crew were greeted by city officials, members of the community and the Escanaba City Band. During a welcome ceremony the Ocean Navigator’s captain was given the key to the city. When passengers left the ship they were given a gift bag put together by local businesses and the Delta County Chamber of Commerce.

The cruise ship’s buses became a familiar sight over the summer as they took passengers to various destinations in the area.

Passengers were able to take a “Hop On Hop Off” bus route, moving passengers along Ludington Street to the Upper Peninsula State Fairgrounds. Guests had the choice to hop on and hop off the bus at various locations on the route.

In the afternoon, the bus took guests to the Potawatomi Heritage Center in Hannahville with a cultural experience provided by the Woodland Sky Native American Dance Company and a stop at the Island Resort and Casino in Harris.

There was also a craft beer and wine bus tour with stops at Leigh’s Garden Winery, Hereford and Hops, Upper Hand Brewery, and Northern Sun Winery.

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