Court­ing cruise ships

Georgetown Port co-or­di­na­tor seeks ex­cur­sion pack­ages

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEVE SHARRATT

The new co-or­di­na­tor of a pro­ject to bring cruise ships to eastern P.E.I. is look­ing for ex­cur­sion pack­ages.

Melvin Ford, work­ing with the Georgetown Port, is tak­ing his en­thu­si­asm to bol­ster tourism to three com­mu­nity meet­ings this week as a way to seek out tour pack­ages for the cruise ship mar­ket.

“Our strat­egy is to get them here and to have some­thing fun and in­ter­est­ing for them to do,’’ he said from his of­fice over­look­ing the har­bour where tourists may one day dis­em­bark. “That means I need sug­ges­tions and pro­pos­als from the com­mu­ni­ties so we can work to­gether.”

They’re called the pocket ships — mini-ver­sions of the larger ships dock­ing in Char­lot­te­town — but Ford says the day is com­ing when they will steam into Georgetown and there needs to be vis­i­ta­tion pack­ages as­sem­bled.

“Our job is to make sure they have plenty of things to do and see and get that all pack­aged up,’’ he said.

Georgetown is now a niche port rec­og­nized by the At­lantic Cruise Ship As­so­ci­a­tion and Ford will be in at­ten­dance when the group holds its an­nual meet­ing next week at Crow­bush.

Cruise ships al­ready bring more than $13 mil­lion to the port of Char­lot­te­town.

A nor­mal stop-over pro­vides cruise pas­sen­gers a seven or eight hour win­dow for shop­ping, tour­ing, din­ing and vis­it­ing. While there’s enough to see and do in Georgetown for one day, Ford said the con­cept is to of­fer three or four ex­cur­sion bus tours as well so there are choices from Souris to Pan­mure Is­land.

“We need a pack­age for Souris and Basin Head and chef Michael Smith…. and I need to hear from that com­mu­nity as far as cre­at­ing some­thing,’’ he said.

Ford said cruise ship pas­sen­gers are al­ready well fed on board, so tours and ac­tiv­i­ties are most needed to oc­cupy visit times.

“I want to see who wants to be part of this so we can get go­ing,’’ he said. “If a com­mu­nity doesn’t have any­thing to of­fer, I can’t sell it to a tour bus com­pany.”

The ideas were spread in Mon­tague and Souris on Tues­day and Wed­nes­day and at 6:30 p.m. July 13 at the Kings Play­house.

BRIAN MCINNIS/THE GUARDIAN

The Maas­dam slides past the me­mo­rial to the ex­pul­sion of the Aca­di­ans 500 years ago that is lo­cated in Port-la-Joye Fort Amherst as it leaves the Char­lot­te­town har­bour Wed­nes­day. Cruise ships are a fa­mil­iar sight in the city har­bour and of­fi­cials in eastern P.E.I. are look­ing to at­tract cruise ships to their area. The ships that would visit the eastern part of the province are called pocket ships and are mini ver­sions of the ships that dock in Char­lot­te­town.

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