Duluth, Minn., U.S.A. — September 13, 2011 ----- After a four-year absence, the German luxury liner C. Columbus has returned to the Great Lakes for two cruises this month and is scheduled to make stops in Duluth on both legs of the Toronto-Chicago route: on Wed., Sept. 14 (tomorrow) and again on Thurs., Sept. 22. This will be her 11th and 12th visits to the Port of Duluth-Superior since she first set sail in 1997.
The Columbus, under the command of Captain Jörn Gottschalk, is expected to arrive beneath the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge at approximately 5:00 a.m. and will proceed directly to Murphy Oil USA at the Clure Public Marine Terminal for fueling. The vessel is scheduled to then dock behind the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC) at 8:00 a.m., where passengers will clear Customs and Border Protection.
As they disembark, passengers will be greeted by the familiar sounds of a German band called the “Wurst Band,” playing on the waterfront balcony of the DECC under the direction of Ron Halverson. Once all 370 passengers have cleared customs in Paulucci Hall, most will be taking narrated sightseeing bus tours of the city and/or the North Shore – excursions arranged by Visit Duluth. Nearly a dozen citizen volunteers from the Twin Ports will serve as German-speaking greeters. The one-day stop will also allow visitors time to explore the downtown/Canal Park area on foot before returning to the ship. The Columbus is scheduled to depart at approximately 8:00 p.m. via the Duluth ship canal.
“It’s great to see this passenger ship return to the Great Lakes,” said Ron Johnson, trade development director for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “We’re thrilled to have her back. It’s a great boost for the local economy and for the Seaway.”
Owned and operated by the German cruise company Hapag-Lloyd, the Columbus comes equipped with five passenger decks that include a swimming pool, sauna, fitness center, library, salon, restaurant, lounge and wine-bar. Built for luxury cruising, the atmosphere onboard is one of casual elegance enhanced by outstanding cuisine and an attentive, international crew of 180. Built in Germany in 1997, the Bahamian-flagged ship is 472.4 feet long and 70.5 feet wide – designed specifically to accommodate Great Lakes/Seaway locks.
The 423-passenger luxury ocean liner is operating two cruises this year along the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway – from Toronto, Ont., to Chicago, Ill. (Sept. 5-18) and a return voyage Sept. 18-Oct.1 . Rates for the ten-day cruises range from approximately $3,500 (inside cabin) to $9,500 (outside suite). The vessel will stop in Duluth once on each leg of the trip – allowing passengers to disembark and enjoy a day of sightseeing and shopping. Additional stops include: the Welland Canal, Windsor, Manitoulin Island, Little Current, Sault Ste Marie/Soo Locks, Thunder Bay, Mackinac Island and Traverse City, Mich.
Department of Homeland Security regulations require the docking location along Harbor Drive be fenced and closed to the general public, but citizens wishing to view the Columbus may do so from the area adjacent to the blue pedestrian bridge in Canal Park and walkways near the Great Lakes Aquarium.