Muskegon’s busiest cruise ship season begins tomorrow, May 23, with arrival of the Victory I

The Victory I docks at Heritage Landing in 2017. Photo by Anna Gustafson

Muskegon is set to see more cruise ships coming to the city than ever before, beginning with the Victory I’s arrival this Thursday, May 23.

Three ships—Victory I, Pearl Mist and Le Champlain—are scheduled to make a total of 13 stops in Muskegon this summer and fall, with the 300-foot Victory I slated to dock at Heritage Landing around 7am tomorrow. It departs at 6pm Thursday, and the ship’s passengers will spend their day visiting Muskegon’s historical district, the USS Silversides Submarine Museum, and the LST 393.

This will be the fourth year that Muskegon has been a port of call for Great Lakes cruise ships, and area officials note there’s growing interest among cruise lines to visit the city. In previous seasons, there were no more than two cruise ships and 11 moorings.

“Hosting the cruise ships in Muskegon is exciting because it brings attention to our deep water harbor,” Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Larsen said in a press release. “The economic impact of the port has been estimated to be $300 million annually. Thousands of people travel to this community by cruise ship, the high-speed Lake Express Ferry, a sailing yacht, or motor cruiser. Vessels of all sizes and shapes are here to see the beautiful vistas of Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan.”

The first cruise ship to dock in 2015 was the Pearl Mist—which originally ended up in Muskegon due to a docking conflict in Holland, where it had been scheduled to go. Since then, the Port of Muskegon and the city are seeing new interest in the area from cruise line operators. Area officials have noted that the cruise ships’ presence have translated to an increase in visitors to the area’s cultural institutions, including the Heritage Museum, the Lakeshore Museum Center, the Muskegon Museum of Art, the Hackley and Hume Historic Site, the LST 393, and the USS Silversides Submarine Museum, among others.

Additionally, “The Economic and Fiscal Impacts of Michigan’s Ports and Harbors” report notes the cruise ships generate income in the area with “extensive shopping trips” during every port-of-call, including purchasing food, wine and liquor, kitchen utensils, sundry items, and more. Too, passengers will visit local restaurants, breweries, and shops.

The influx of cruise ships comes as tourism is on the rise in Muskegon: visitor spending increased by 3.1 percent in Muskegon County in 2017 over the previous year, according to the state’s most recent Economic Impact of Tourism report. A little more than $313.3 million was spent by visitors in Muskegon County in 2017, resulting in 4,667 direct and indirect jobs in the county, according to the report. Directly, tourism dollars support 3,157 jobs in Muskegon County, according to the same report.

Officials expect even more visitors to Muskegon in the coming years as a wide range of major developments are completed, including the $19 million convention center and rebranded hotel in downtown Muskegon, a kayak launch near Heritage Landing, the opening of more restaurants and shops, further development at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, and a proposed casino for Fruitport Township.

“It’s an exciting time to be in Muskegon County,” Visit Muskegon Director Bob Lukens said in a previous press release. “The tourism-related development happening here is nothing short of amazing and is shaping the county’s future. We’re truly all working together toward a common goal of making Muskegon County a premier visitor destination along the West Michigan shoreline, and people across the Midwest are noticing.”

The schedule for the 2019 cruise ship visits to Muskegon is as follows:

  • Thursday, May 23: Victory I
  • Monday, June 10: Pearl Mist
  • Thursday, June 13: Pearl Mist
  • Tuesday, July 2: Pearl Mist
  • Friday, July 5: Pearl Mist
  • Wednesday, July 24: Pearl Mist
  • Saturday, July 27: Pearl Mist
  • Thursday, Aug. 15: Pearl Mist
  • Sunday, Aug. 18: Pearl Mist
  • Thursday, Aug. 29: Pearl Mist
  • Sunday, Sept. 1: Pearl Mist
  • Monday, Sept. 23: Le Champlain
  • Saturday, Oct. 5: Le Champlain

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