Friday, July 8, 2011

One Day You Might Cruise From Savannah

You may only think of Savannah, Georgia in terms of what locals call "The Book" (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), but there's a lot more to the city than cemeteries and intrigue. Situated on the Savannah River, just a short distance inland from the Atlantic, Savannah is Georgia's most important coastal port and some believe it would be an ideal homeport for cruises.

As reported last week by, The Savannah city council got an update on the possibility of cruise ships calling the city their home. According to Alderman Tony Thomas, not only one, but several cruise lines are interested. Thomas says he began talks with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines recently and they are interested in Savannah's plans. After approving an expansion of the city's cruise ship task force, the City Council should get answers to their most pressing questions, such as how much a cruise terminal would cost and how much business could downtown merchants expect to see as a result.

Initially, the city would need a temporary terminal. As a passenger on a cruise that called on Savannah several years ago, Cruise Diva can see the need. We were on Hapag Lloyd's Europa, which was able to dock for the day within walking distance to the main downtown area. It was convenient, but there is no actual passenger terminal building there.

Of the three possible temporary terminal locations mentioned (Georgia Ports Authority Ocean Terminals 1 and 2, which already dock large ships and cruise ships that call in Savannah; Hutchinson Island, across the river; and the Savannah River Landing next to the Marriott off River Street), we kind of like the idea of a passenger terminal near Savannah River Landing, but it could result in the type of traffic congestion that is causing so much controversy among the locals in Charleston. The Ocean Terminals would likely be the most practical from a driving and parking standpoint if they could eventually make it permanent.

Alderman Thomas said the additional task force time and funding will move the process along at a faster pace and the cruise industry and City of Savannah could come to an agreement in the next 12 to 24 months. That's really good news for those of us within driving distance of Georgia's most charming and intriguing city.

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