French cruise ships abandon Great Lakes
TRAVEL INDUSTRY: The German cruise ship the Columbus still
plans a visit to Duluth this year.
By Ellen Creager
Detroit Free Press
Posted on May 24, 2005
Au revoir, Le Levant and Orion.
The sexy blue-hulled French cruise ships that plied the
Great Lakes last year have left for distant seas without
ever calling on the Twin Ports.
The glamorous Orion, new to Great Lakes cruising last
year, has been chartered by an Australian company and
will sail Tasmania, the Barrier Reef and East Timor, instead
of Lake Superior and the Straits of Mackinac, said Christopher
Wright, director of Cruising the Great Lakes, an Ontario-based
coordinating agency for Great Lakes cruises.
Le Levant, meanwhile, had a change of ownership, sailed
for Europe and will cruise the Baltic Sea this summer.
Ron Johnson, trade development director for the Duluth
Seaway Port Authority, remains optimistic the cruise ships
may return to the Great Lakes. He said Le Levant, in particular,
has been very well received by travelers and has operated
profitably to the best of his knowledge.
"I still think the future for the cruise industry
on the Great Lakes is bright," Johnson said, pointing
out that the German cruise ship, the Columbus, didn't
visit the Great Lakes in 2003, but it returned in 2004
and is expected to call on the Twin Ports again this year.
The U.S. cruise ship Grande Caribe is expected to call
on Duluth-Superior this summer, as well.
The loss of the two ships means only 3,400 passengers
are expected on Great Lakes cruises this summer instead
of last year's 7,360.