TC Leaders Discuss Pros, Cons of Cruise Ships Porting in Grand Traverse Bay

Major cruise lines have their eye on Traverse City.

CaptureViking Cruises is the latest line to announce a Great Lakes route that will stop in the Cherry Capital. Their eight day voyage includes an itinerary with stops in Ontario, Alpena, Mackinac Island, Detroit and Milwaukee as well.

At the TC port of call, the visit includes excursions to the Sleeping Bear Dunes, wine tasting on the Leelanau Peninsula and shopping in downtown Traverse City.

The ship would dock at the Discovery Center Pier on West Grand Traverse Bay.

Friday, the Discovery Center invited community leaders to a meeting to see if they’re on board with the idea.

A few weeks ago, Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers told 9&10 he had some reservations with the plan.

“We felt it was really important to not make a decision in a vacuum,” said Discovery Center Great Lakes CEO Matt McDonough.

The Viking cruise would bring up to 380 passengers, eight times a summer.

“The overall impact is fairly negligible when you consider there’s millions of visitors that come to Traverse City every year,” said McDonough.

For Traverse City tourism CEO Trevor Tkach, the cruise ships would be a predictable stream of new business in the area.

“You know how many people are going in, and how many people are going out, you know exactly when they’re coming and you know their itinerary, where they want to go and what they want to do,” said Tkach.

The Leelanau Peninsula Chamber of Commerce says the meeting helped clear up one of their biggest concerns: how nature would be affected.

“First and foremost, we’re a community that’s very concerned about the environmental impact,” said chamber vice president Deborah Allen. “One of the things I’m most encouraged by is the open communication.”

The DNR, NOAA and EGLE all participated in Friday’s meeting.

The Discovery Center said they’ll make a final decision about cruise ships using their docks within the next few months.

“We haven’t made commitments to anybody,” said McDonough.

Viking’s Great Lakes cruise is scheduled to set sail in 2022.