The Gorge’s ships are finally coming in, and Hood River’s Port concessionaires are getting ready to greet them.
After a year of canceled cruise ship stops at Hood River and The Dalles, American Cruise Lines has applied to resume its Columbia River cruises this spring and summer, albeit with reduced visits. Lindblad Expeditions has also applied to begin tours in September, according to Daryl Stafford, Hood River’s waterfront manager, and Genevieve Scholl, special projects manager for the Port of Hood River.
In response, Hood River’s event, schools and rental businesses will begin setting up around April 15 followed by food cart operators May 1 in the north section of the Event Site Dock, according to port staff.
COVID-19 was not the only culprit threatening tour ship visits. The port this year repaired dry rot damage to a beam on the south section of the Event Site Dock, making it ship shape just in time for tours to resume.
If state and county officials approve American Cruise Lines’ COVID protocols and operating procedures, the first tour stop in Hood River could be as early as May 8, Scholl said.
The cruise ships canceled 64 stops in 2020, eliminating the port fees and local business that accompany them. Typically, cruise ship operators pay the port $200 per visit plus utility charges. Despite cancellations, American Cruise lines paid its $6,000 infrastructure 2020 fee, as well as the 2021 fee that helps maintain the Marina Jetty. This year, American is slated to visit Hood River 34 times, and Lindblad, 16.
Businesses that are set to operate this year on the Hood River Waterfront include five kiteboarding shops, two food concession stands, and four lesson and rental services for people interested in windsurfing, kayak, stand-up paddleboarding and kiteboarding. The businesses are also open to locals and visitors not associated with cruises. A copy of the American Cruise Line safety protocols is at www.americancruiselines.com/account/covid-19-operating-protocol; Lindblad's protocols can be viewed at www.expeditions.com/covid-protocol.