Authorites say cruise ships will remain rare
Wilmington had an economic boost this week when a German cruise ship docked for the day. So why isn’t the Port City hosting more ships when they bring in tourists who have money to spend.
The scene Monday as the German cruise ship, the Aida Aura docked in Wilmington was filled with eager tourists who were looking to spend money. Its nearly 1,300 passengers and 400 plus crew members spent the day site seeing and spending as estimated $450,000.
While the ship’s visit pumped money into the Port City’s economy, Kim Hufham with the Wilmington Cape Fear Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau said not to get used to seeing cruise ships here. “One of the disadvantages we have is that our port is set up as a cargo port, so we’re not necessarily set up as a passenger type cruise port. Our port is 20 plus miles up river and a lot of the ports that we could compete against if we were really actively pursuing the cruise ship market would be those that are a mile or so off the ocean.”
Hufham also said Wilmington sees only one large ship like this a year. Security regulations at the port make it difficult to handle people walking through, and Hufham said several changes would need to be made before Wilmington got serious about hosting more cruise ships.
Some downtown employees say after the boost they got Monday, they’d like to see more. “Business would definitely increase and they all seemed to be really enjoying themselves. I think it could only be a good thing,” said Hanna Yester, a downtown employee.
A Ports Authority spokesperson said port officials have to come up with an industrial security plan for each cruise ship that visits.