Vol. 9, No. 43
October 25-31, 2001
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Terror’s Fallout: Bay Cruising Curbed

The U.S. Boat Shows have come and gone — and so has the prospect of steamboat-style cruising on Chesapeake Bay.

Just last week, we reported that the enormous, stately Cape May Light would launch an inauguraal season of seven-day and 14-day cruises on Chesapeake Bay [“Pleasure Steamers Return to Chesapeake Bay”: Vol. IX, No. 42].

The 300-foot-long luxury cruiser would have been quite a sight steaming the Bay, visible from Solomons, North Beach, Fairhaven and Galesville. At port in Annapolis and St. Michaels, the 68-foot-high vessel would have dwarfed any proud luxury yacht in the harbor.

We dreamed of elegant Bay-cruising ourselves — despite the promised price tag of some $5,000 for a week afloat for two. Now, all dreams have evaporated in the harsh light of reality.

By the time most of you were reading last week’s paper, American Classic Voyage’s grand scheme for not only Chesapeake but American cruising had fallen to bankruptcy.

The cause, according to the company’s CEO, was September 11’s tragedy.

The terrorist attacks had dealt “a devastating blow” to the optimistic business, Phil Calian said in a release.

Cancellations increased 30 percent and bookings declined by 50 percent in the wake of the attacks. Also docked were two cruise ships, the MS Patriot and the SS Independence — which traveled to Hawaii — as well as four of the five riverboats operated by Delta Queen Steamboats and the Cape May Light’s sister ship.

“We will continue to operate on a much reduced scale to focus on our Mississippi River cruises, which have been the historic core of our company,” Calian said, noting that only the Delta Queen, a national historic riverboat, will continue to cruise. And that’s not until next year.

The dream had died before Cape May Light could make her inaugural Chesapeake voyage, set to sail October 20.

Fortunately, not all Bay boat dreams have been sunk. The U.S. Boat Shows continued full-steam ahead with, some say, surprisingly strong sales from accessories to big-budget dreamboats.

Still, American Classic Voyages’ bankruptcy is yet another sign that terrorism crumbled more than the World Trade towers in New York and a chunk of the Pentagon.

The economy has been stricken. Many, if not most of us, have felt losses — in our portfolios, our confidence, our travel. Even our health seems vulnerable. Yet our losses don’t compare to the loss of thousands of lives in these tragedies.

Keeping Chesapeake Country’s economy on a steady course is at least in part within our means. To do our part, we should not let fear keep our dreams in port.

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly