HOUGHTON - Houghton city officials are pleased with the first run of cruise ship visits this summer, and say next year will be a chance to work out kinks.
"Overall, it was a great success," said Police Chief John Donnelly.
The Clelia II made 12 visits to the city this summer, the last of which came Sunday. The 290-foot, 4,077-ton ship is owned by the Great Lakes Cruise Company of Ann Arbor.
The ship carried about 75 passengers. Tickets for the cruise typically cost between $5,000 and $10,000.
Donnelly said most crew members made a beeline up M-26 to Walmart, which was followed in popularity by the Dollar Store and OfficeMax. But many of them also ate at downtown restaurants.
"There was a tradeoff," he said.
City Manager Scott MacInnes said the biggest beneficiaries had been the Quincy Mine Hoist and the Keweenaw National Historical Park, to which passengers were bused for historical tours. With donations from increased traffic, the Mine Hoist was able to do improvements, MacInnes said.
Initially, the visits to the park took up most of the passengers' time, Donnelly said.
The ship is scheduled to come back 10 times next year - four times in June and six in September.
Donnelly said the captain said there wouldn't be a problem docking by Dee Stadium next year, which would put the passengers in the center of downtown, allowing them to reach the shopping district more easily. This year, he said, the biggest boon to business was seen on the west end of Shelden Avenue.
Donnelly said the security training done in advance of next year provides them with a head start for next year. He said they also improved at processing passengers through the checkpoint over the course of the summer.
Mayor Bob Backon suggested when the ship's crew first comes in next year, they should be driven through downtown to show them what businesses are there - and that torn-up streets aren't.
"We should get the word out that we are completely done," he said.
Donnelly said he had spoken with the person in charge of scheduling the trips. She told Donnelly she could accommodate a change in the schedule to allow the visitors more time for downtown shopping.
"All these things help us as far as getting them downtown," he said.
Garrett Neese can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.