Cruise ship to dock Tuesday, 2 others slated for September – Times-Standard
The arrival of the first cruise ship to the Humboldt Bay port in two years and its disembarking passengers is likely to have a positive economic impact, but the magnitude is hard to determine.
The 709-foot-long Seven Seas Mariner, sailing under the company Regent Seven Seas Cruises, will be pulling into port Tuesday around 7:45 a.m. and leaving at 7 p.m. The ship is carrying hundreds of passengers aboard a 26-day voyage that began in Miami and is scheduled to end in San Francisco.
Eureka economic development manager Swan Asbury told the Times-Standard via email the immediate impact of the tourists’ brief time off the ship is hard to pin down.
“While it is difficult to calculate actual spending of each visitor that comes in via a specific cruise ship, we can estimate that more than half the ship’s passengers are likely to disembark for the day to enjoy shopping and dining in Old Town or an excursion out into the county, and of course, there is economic value in the port usage as well. Many of these visitors are getting introduced to our area for the first time and we hope they will make plans to come back and stay for a longer visit at a later date which helps the larger tourism economy build momentum over time,” Asbury said.
Humboldt County Visitors and Tourism Bureau executive director Julie Benbow also pointed to the difficulty of predicting said numbers, especially as the ship has not let public officials know how many passengers will be stepping on land. Her organization is monitoring specific businesses based on consumer patterns.
“Visitor spending behavior predicts that they will spend in three or four locations including coffee shops, restaurants, retail stores and museums. We will survey Old Town after and debrief about their experiences,” Benbow said
The city will hold a plaque exchange ceremony to celebrate the ship’s call and reception for passengers featuring local oysters and beverages ahead of the Mariner’s departure, a release from the city states.
Market evaluations of cruise ship visits are listed among Eureka’s economic development strategic plan update. The city has also partnered with the harbor commission and the county to participate in the cruise promotion association Cruise the West.
“Coming out of COVID, there has been a lot of interest in Eureka as a cruise ship destination. We are responding to this interest and working collaboratively to make the most of the opportunity and industry interest,” Asbury pointed out.
Benbow said cruises have not been a significant part of county tourism plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past three years, along with challenges with docking details and on-shore transportation,
“These challenges are being worked out and this initial cruise ship and the passenger feedback will inform future focus,” Benbow said.
The Eureka port is slated to receive two more cruise ships, the MS Oceania and the Scenic Eclipse, this September.
Mario Cortez can be reached at 707-441-0526.