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Great Lakes Article:

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.

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