First of 16 Cruise Ships Visits New Bedford

“American Star” Cruises into City
By Don Cuddy, New Bedford Standard-Times

Ed Lacombe, a worker on the New Bedford waterfront, ties up the cruise ship American Star at State Pier. The ship’s itinerary also include stops in Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Newport and Block Island, R.I. PETER PEREIRA/The Standard-Times

NEW BEDFORD — Like a returning snow bird, the white cruise ship American Star homed in on State Pier for an overnight stay Monday, offering its 90 passengers an opportunity to explore the city’s attractions.
It was the first of 16 visits scheduled for the luxurious ships of the American Cruise Line throughout the summer. The city, through its Harbor Development Commission, signed a five-year contract with the Guilford, Conn., cruise company in 2008 to ensure that the relationship endures.
American Cruise Line specializes in small-ship cruising along the waterways, bays and rivers of the East Coast, and business is very good, company officials say.
“Last week we had the best sales week in the history of the company,” the ship’s captain, John Ayar, said. “I think that people are now looking to spend their money closer to home, and we offer them that opportunity.” American Cruise Line currently operates four ships and is building a fifth, Ayar said.
“They have found a niche market,” New Bedford Mayor Scott W. Lang said. “It’s good for New Bedford. Our belief is that many of their passengers will come back to visit New Bedford by car later.”
To encourage cruise visitors to open their wallets while in the city, the Harbor Development Commission distributed a coupon book to the ship’s passengers.
“We collaborated with the business community and now we can offer discounts at more than 60 shops, restaurants and galleries locally,” said Harbor Development Commission Executive Director Kristin Decas.
The ships typically cater to an older and relatively affluent clientele, with prices for a six-night cruise from Providence aboard the 53-state-room ship ranging from $2,800 to $4,000, depending on the level of accommodation. The itinerary includes stops in Newport and Block Island, R.I., and Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and New Bedford.
Jack Frates was driving the trolley provided by the HDC to take passengers to the whaling museum and Rotch-Jones-Duff House. “This is my third year,” he said. “The people come from all over the country. It’s good for tourism and it keeps me busy.”
“We wanted to spend more time getting to know our own country,” said Stan Adelstein, a state senator from Rapid City, S.D., as he descended the gangway with his traveling companion, Lynda Clark, former director of the state museum of art in South Dakota. “We’re learning a lot about New England on this trip. We live 20 miles from Belle Fourche, the geographic center of the country, and there isn’t a lot of water out there.”
Representatives from the National Park Service were also on the pier to welcome visitors.
“They will have a lot of options all summer,” said Frank Barrows of the park service. “We have a living history program with costumed interpreters, and we’ll be offering them guided tours and providing maps for self-guided tours.”
June 09, 2009
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