Traverse City Leadership Discuss Pros, Cons of Having Cruise Ship Port

When you think of going on a cruise you may think of a tropical escape, but one cruise line wants to launch a Great Lakes trip and it would include stops in Traverse City.

Photo Credit: VikingCruises.Com

Viking Cruises will offer a Great Lakes expedition starting in 2022 that will travel from Toronto to Milwaukee with stops in Traverse City, Niagra Falls, Detroit, Mackinac Island and more.

But local leadership is still deciding whether they’re on board.

Traverse City mayor Jim Carruthers says the idea of a cruise ship porting in the cherry capital makes him “nervous” for a variety of reasons. He says he’s read about the negative impacts cruise lines have had on other destinations like Venice, Italy.

“Many areas of the world are trying to chase them out because of tourism,” said Carruthers. “I’m still wanting to know, what is the benefit to Traverse City? They really don’t bring in jobs, they’re doing nothing for housing, so really what is it doing for our community?”

He says he is also has concerns about a cruise line’s environmental impact. He wonders how the vessels would mitigate the potential spread of invasive species and if the ship would cause erosion or wake issues in Grand Traverse Bay.

Grand Traverse County commission chair Rob Hentschel says he does not know many details about the potential port in T.C. but says right off the bat, he’s excited about the idea.

“Cruise liners bringing a lot of traffic, that’s great for the local economy, I certainly would welcome that with open arms,” said Hentschel. “A few hundred people going to town is something we experience in the summer anyways so I think it would be a great fit. It would be great for Northern Michigan and the whole region.”

Local leadership will meet later in the month to discuss the pro’s and con’s of having a cruise ship stop in Traverse City.