Victory Cruise Lines cancels all Great Lakes sailings for 2020,
May 29, 2020 01:26PM
By Susan Glaser of cleveland.com - May 29, 2020
Victory Cruise Lines, the biggest player in Great Lakes cruising, has canceled its 2020 sailing season, leaving the nascent port of Cleveland without cruise passengers this summer.
Victory, which typically sails two ships in the Great Lakes during a six-month season, was scheduled to resume its itineraries in early July. Instead, the company announced this week that it wouldn’t sail this summer at all.
“The decision to suspend service for 2020 was a difficult and disappointing choice but necessary in response to uncertainties of Canadian travel in the coming months,” said John Waggoner, CEO of American Queen Steamboat Co., parent company of Victory.
The Canadian government last week extended a ban on non-essential travel between the United States and Canada until at least June 21 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Victory itineraries typically include numerous stops at both Canadian and U.S. ports, including Cleveland, Chicago, Toronto, Niagara Falls and Mackinac Island.
Earlier this year, the Victory canceled all 2020 sailings for one of its ships, the Victory II, and delayed the launch of the Victory I until July 5. The sister ships typically spend the summer sailing through the five Great Lakes, stopping in Cleveland and numerous other ports.
The company initially had 42 stops planned for Cleveland in 2020, with as many as 8,500 passengers disembarking for the day. Those passengers typically spend time touring the Rock Hall, West Side Market, Cleveland Museum of Art or exploring on their own.
“While the Port is disappointed, we certainly understand their decision,” said Dave Gutheil, chief maritime officer for the Port of Cleveland. “In the meantime, we will continue to prepare for the 2021 cruise season and take all necessary precautions to insure safe processing of visitors that arrive via the Port of Cleveland.”
The port last year invested $600,000 in a new U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility to process cruise passengers upon their arrival in Cleveland. Previously, that screening had been conducted in waterfront tents.
Despite this year’s cancellations, officials in Cleveland remain optimistic about Great Lakes cruising and the growing popularity of Cleveland as a port of call.
Waggoner said Victory now will focus on the 2021 season, which will include the debut of the 200-passenger Ocean Victory in Alaska and new itineraries on the Great Lakes. For information: victorycruiselines.com.
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