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The Octantis Sailed Into Alpena Kicking Off Tourism Season


On a rainy Tuesday in Alpena, the Viking Cruise ship, the Octantis, sailed its way into Thunder Bay. This year the Alpena Marine Sanctuary doubled the amount of tours they’ll be receiving from last years 10 tours to 20 total tours this year. That means the amount of tourist making their way and exploring Alpena will be doubled this year.

Cassandra Sadler, the Resource Protection Specialist at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary explains what the Sanctuary’s plans for the tourists were. “Each Viking Cruise is bringing about 400 hundred passengers to Alpena. So, our plan for them today was that they come in and receive a lecture from our superintendent about the great thing the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary does.” Cassandra also added, “The tourists will learn about our Resource Protection and our Education & Outreach programs. Then, they get to ride on our glass bottom boat, the Lady Michigan. Then, if they have extra time, they get to go downtown Alpena, to check out some of our local coffee shops, our breweries and stores.” She finished off her though by thanking Viking Cruises, “We’re just very thankful to have Viking coming to visit the Sanctuary. It’s a beautiful way to spread the message of the Sanctuary and to teach about cultural resource preservation and share the exciting history of Thunder Bay.

With the influx of tourists this summer Christopher Chrzan, the General Manager of Fresh Pallet in downtown Alpena, shared some insight from a local business perspective about the impact tourism has on the local economy. “Tourist season is huge for the restaurant in downtown, we’ve noticed that throughout the year we have locals that do come out and support us year round.” He continues, “But a soon as tourists start coming to downtown and check out all the shops down here, everyone starts moving around. “They see that traffic, they just want come and be part of the fun and get out here. The tourism is definitely a huge boost, we cannot wait for it every year, all the downtown businesses, for the tourist to get here.

With the numbers of tourists projected to be doubled this time around, I was curious to know how would local businesses in downtown handling this wave of incoming tourists? Christopher responded with an amazing response, “A lot of staff training! Because in the restaurant industry here you’re always short handed no matter what you do. You’re going to be short a person or two so we have to train everyone up and make sure they’re on the top of their game and everyone’s here.”