YORKTOWN — The announcement last week that Princess Cruises had announced a series of custom-curated itineraries slated for summer 2024, including a port stop in Yorktown and the Historic Triangle, has created excitement but also raised questions.
Stephen Roane Jr., District 4 Supervisor, shared an update Tuesday to address some of those issues.
According to Roane, 2024 will be a pilot program considered a proof-of-concept to test the multiple aspects of the program, allowing the opportunity to “evaluate the program’s feasibility in a real-world environment, make adjustments as necessary and ultimately decide if being a port-of-call to a large cruise ship can be a success for York County.”
Long-term plans will be determined by decisions made over the next 24 months by various county, federal and state agencies, and the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard will also conduct reviews and provide guidance, he said. He added the potential economic benefits will be balanced against possible environmental impacts, as well as how to manage the large influx of tourists.
Key aspects of the deal:
- 2024 will be a pilot program for the cruise line — the ship will anchor in the river, not at existing piers
- Yorktown will be a port-of-call, it will not be a departure port for passengers to initially board the ship
- Passengers will leave/return to the ship via tenders that will ferry them from the ship to the piers
- Ships will be in port mostly during the weekdays
- Day visits are planned, arriving around morning breakfast hours and departing early evening
- The anchor location for the pilot program is subject to a number of factors, including U.S. Navy and Coast Guard reviews — anchorage north of the George P. Coleman Memorial Bridge is currently being targeted
- Ships will not transfer of supplies or discharge trash and sewage
- Projections show that during most visits, approximately a third of the passengers will remain on the ship, a third will visit the Yorktown waterfront and the remaining third will plan on day excursions to Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown
Princess Cruises said in an announcement last week that five stops are planned, with sailing dates, itineraries and shore excursions yet to be announced. Plans call for three visits by the 2,200-passenger Island Princess and two by the 3,080-passenger Emerald Princess, and the cruise line said it will work with local tour operators to showcase the region.
Roane said more information would be shared as it became available.