Second cruise ship coming to Poulsbo

Port, city officials see economic boon to old downtown if mooring problem can be solved

POULSBO — Starting in 2018, not one, but two, cruise ships will be dropping anchor in Liberty Bay, Port of Poulsbo Commissioner Stephen Swann announced at the June 28 Poulsbo Port District/City of Poulsbo Joint Meeting.

The news was confirmed by American Cruise Lines, which operates the cruise ships.

Currently, the cruise liner “American Spirit” stops in Poulsbo; it carries about 100 passengers, Swann said.

The new ship, “American Constellation,” will carry almost twice as many passengers. Having two ships in the Sound will enable the cruise line to offer 18 cruises during the 2018 season, including summer cruises. The cruise line will also add a new, longer cruise.

American Cruise Lines said it is adding the “Grand Puget Sound Cruise,” an 11-day round trip out of Seattle. In addition to Poulsbo, the Grand Puget Sound itinerary will include the Washington ports of Olympia, Tacoma, Seattle, Port Townsend, Port Angeles, Friday Harbor and Anacortes.

Both the city and the port commissioners were in agreement that it would be a real boon to the downtown economy if the cruise ships could anchor or moor at the Port of Poulsbo.

At present, the American Spirit anchors off of Oyster Plant Park and transports passengers ashore in launches and then onto buses. City and port officials agreed this is less than optimal for local businesses, as well as hard on older passengers. The landing at Oyster Plant Park is “really steep and too much for some of the older passengers,” Swann said.

As part of the port’s long-term goals, a new floating breakwater might make it possible to moor directly.

A more immediate solution is to anchor a permanent mooring buoy off of the port where the cruise ships could tie off safely and then transport passengers to the port and downtown. Port Commissioner Jim Rutledge said the port had looked into that and it would cost about $80,000.

“We need that mooring buoy,” Mayor Becky Erickson said.

In addition to cruise ships, it could also be used by yachts that are too big to moor at the Port docks, she said.

Erickson suggested that this might be a good use for the city/port’s joint fund. City Council member Connie Lord challenged whether that would be an appropriate use of the fund that comes from money the port pays the city to lease shoreline land in front of the port.

No decision was made and the matter will need to be discussed further, probably in conjunction with a port official attending the city’s planning and economic development committee meetings. (If more than one of the three port commissioners were to attend, that would be considered a quorum and add yet another level of paperwork.) All of the city’s committee meetings — where most of the actual work gets done — are open to the public and recorded.

In the meantime, port officials said they would contact American Cruise Lines to see if it would be willing to assist with the costs of the new buoy.

— Terryl Asla is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at