Last week the Keweenaw saw for the first time, the Viking Octantis. While the ship was the largest vessel in the canal that day, it was not the first cruise ship to make a stop in the Copper Country. This summer marked the return of cruise ships in the area in over a decade. While a lot of focus has been on the arrival of the boats, how does the cruise ship industry affect the local area’s economy?
There have been concerns that the environmental impact of these cruises will outweigh the economic benefit. Visit Keweenaw Executive Director, Brad Barnett, confirmed that Viking seeks to limit their impact on the lakes whenever possible. In conjunction with Michigan’s Healthy Climate Plan, cruise lines in the great lakes are held to a rigorous sustainability pledge.
Barnett also noted that it is difficult to quantify the economic and environmental impacts in the Copper Country right now, as the ships are returning for the first time in over a decade to the area. As passenger return home, they take with them the experiences of the Keweenaw, and act as sort of ambassadors of the region. During each around the lakes the Octantis carries just over 350 passengers.