Homer plans for jump in cruise ship visits

Posted: Tuesday, December 10, 2002

HOMER (AP) -- Cruise ship travelers will be a more regular sight on the Homer Spit in 2003.

The Homer Chamber of Commerce cruise ship committee said nearly 15 bookings have been secured for the port.

''Anytime you can have a group of visitors coming into the community, all with the intent of doing something, looking for something to do, that's really exciting,'' chamber director Derotha Ferraro told the Homer Tribune.

The most frequent guest will be the 330-foot, 115-passenger Spirit of Oceanus, operated by Alaska Sightseeing Cruise West, which made its first stop in Homer last summer. Spirit of Oceanus will dock at least a dozen times on the Spit and there are potentially three more larger vessels scheduled.

''We have 12 firm bookings of the one that was in this past summer, the Spirit of Oceanus. It might expand to 14,'' said harbormaster Bill Abbot.

Some larger vessels also are slated for next summer.

''It looks like we'll have two big ones,'' said Abbot.

ResidenSea's 650-foot ship The World is to dock on July 10, carrying 650-700 passengers.

''The World ... is like a residential ship, where they're not little cabins, they're condominium suites,'' Abbot said. ''It's a high-end ship. The suites are owned by the people who sail on the ship.''

A 1,400-square-foot apartment on The World costs $2.7 million. The luxurious ship caters to entrepreneurs who sail the world, with an ''endless navigation.''

''It is a floating condominium. This is kind of a unique stop, in that most of the people on the ship aren't your typical tourists. Those people own space on the ship,'' Ferraro said.

The Europa, a German vessel, carries just more than 400 passengers and is tentatively scheduled for May 28.

The Prinsendam, a 650-foot ship carrying 1,200-1,500 passengers, may dock in Homer on May 10, though according to Anchorage cruise ship booking official Greg Lebo, the visit is not yet firm.

Abbot said Homer was not ready for the largest cruise ships.

''We're not ready for the big ones that have 2,000 to 3,000 passengers yet, and we're not trying to market to those yet as a committee. Because we want to get our infrastructure improvements in hopefully, more restrooms out on the Spit, things like that, and then start targeting the bigger cruise ships,'' said Abbot.



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