Viking cruise ships to dock in Windsor in 2022
Hopes for increases in tourism on this side of the river
The Viking cruise line will be sailing ships on the Great Lakes in 2022 and Windsor will be one of the ports where the ships will be stopping.
Viking Cruises is currently building two, large 200-metre long expedition ships.
Stephen Burnett, executive director of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition and Cruise Ontario, said the vessels will be custom-built so that they are able to get through the various locks along the itinerary route.
"The limiting factor for the Great Lakes are the seaway locks," Burnett said.
"In order to build to a seaway maximum size the Viking folks worked with the seaway, they measured the locks to make sure they knew exactly the beam and the length they could build to."
Burnett said the Great Lakes is the last "cruised region" in the world but the non-profit agency he heads is working to change that.
"We've been at this for 20 years and we have eight cruise ships that now commit themselves each spring to the Great Lakes."
The Viking Expedition ships will accommodate 385 passengers.
Adriano Ciotoli, co-owner of Windsor Eats, gets hired to escort tourists from the passenger ships around when they dock in Windsor.
He said improving the docking facilities on this side of the river would make it more attractive for the cruise ships to visit Windsor.
"Making sure things are as clean as possible and as inviting as possible would be one," said Ciotoli. "Even greeting them when the boats arrive."
Ciotoli said tourist sites, such as the Underground Railroad sites and the wineries, would be major benefactors of the tour groups who take bus tours of the area when the ships come in.
He said most of the visitors are in their 60's or 70's so excursions that are physically demanding might not be feasible.
"It's definitely playing up and really approaching these companies well in advance, making sure that you're discussing to them all the possibilities that we can offer for excursions," said Ciotoli.
With files from Tom Addision and CBC's Windsor Morning