Print
Hospitality

Cruises Can Spark Return Trips

By Laura Moore, posted Jun 17, 2022
A few of American Cruise Lines' small ship cruises come to Wilmington each year.

While Charleston and many Florida cities are well-known for being popular ports of call for cruise lines, few people realize that Wilmington hosts a few ships a year coming into port along the Cape Fear River.
 
For more than 20 years, Wilmington has been a stop on the American Cruise Lines small ship cruises through rivers on the East Coast. The East Coast Inland Passage Cruise stops in Wilmington usually twice a year, sometimes with a third stop for an additional small cruise. 
 
The cruise embarks from Baltimore, Maryland, stops at St. Michaels, Maryland, along the Chesapeake Bay before making its way to Norfolk, Virginia, then Kitty Hawk. Next on the itinerary is Beaufort and Morehead City before making its way on the sixth day to Wilmington. 
 
According to the American Cruise Lines website, cruisers visiting Wilmington, “explore this charming city on foot, led by a local guide. Along the way, admire antebellum-style homes restored to their original grandeur and magnificent gardens.” 
 
Later, they can “stop at Airlie Gardens, which dates back to 1884, and explore … spectacular gardens, seasonal blooms, mighty live oaks, walking trails, and historic structures, including a seasonal butterfly house. Next visit the pristine Wrightsville Beach and enjoy picturesque seaside views.” 
 
It depends on the availability of dock space where these cruise ships, typically holding 90 to 100 passengers, drop anchor. According to Connie Nelson, spokeswoman for the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau, that may be at Front and Market, at the Hotel Ballast Marina or at the Port City Marina. 
 
Once they disembark from Wilmington, the cruise sails to Charleston, Beaufort and Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, then continues to Savannah, St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island, Georgia before making their way to Florida in Fernandina Beach, then their final stop in Amelia Island. 
 
Each stop reaps the benefits of the passengers exploring what they have to offer. Nelson said according to the Cruise Line Industry Association, the average passenger spends $100 in each port visited. 
 
“We’re not a city that sits right on the ocean, so we are not going to get the big Carnival-type ships that go through Charleston, but we do get these custom tours based on history for ports along a river,” Kim Hufham, president and CEO of the Wilmington and Beaches CVB. 
 
The CVB works closely with the cruise line to provide it with visitor information and make sure passengers have user guides and maps of downtown Wilmington. 
 
Another aspect of these cruise lines giving passengers a chance to see Wilmington is that according to key findings in the 2022 State of the Cruise Industry, “overall, 6 in 10 people who have taken a cruise say that they have returned to a destination that they first visited via cruise ship.” 
 
Passengers get a taste of Wilmington and often decide return. 
 
“We see all indications of a strong summer season again. All our accommodation partners feel confident in that. Leisure is our business. Meetings and conventions are a small part of what we do in comparison to leisure,” Hufham said. “Not only hotels, but bed and breakfasts, VRBOs, Airbnbs and vacation rentals down at the beach are an increasingly strong part of the market.” 
 
Nelson said many of the local businesses downtown are seeing “an overwhelming number of customers for the concerts, traveling from everywhere.” 
 
Nelson and Hufham said the Live Oak Bank Pavilion, as well as conventions, also bring guests who decide it’s a place that they would like to visit to again. 

Ico insights

INSIGHTS

SPONSORS' CONTENT
Jeremytomlinson enfuse headshot

37% of Orgs Said They Were the Victim of Ransomware In 2021

Jeremy Tomlinson - Enfuse Technology Solutions
Tommytaylor ceo unitedway

I Got 99 Problems But a 501(c)(3) Ain’t One

Tommy Taylor - United Way
Mikestonestreetcropped 862150530

Everything You Need to Know About Community Association Assessments

Mike Stonestreet - CAMS (Community Association Management Services)

Trending News

Overton Tapped As Museum's Director Of Development

Staff Reports - Jul 5, 2022

Humphries Leads Leland Police Department

Staff Reports - Jul 5, 2022

Macaione Named Sales Manager At TowneBank Mortgage

Staff Reports - Jul 5, 2022

Unger Joins DocuGraphics Wilmington

Staff Reports - Jul 5, 2022

Adcock Achieves Membership In Million Dollar Round Table

Staff Reports - Jul 5, 2022

In The Current Issue

Rural Medicine In Demand

Like rural communities across North Carolina, Pender County residents face a number of health care concerns: fewer providers, fewer medical...


2022 MADE Awards: Applications Open

The annual MADE awards program spotlights makers, artisans, small business owners and manufacturers in the tri-county area....


Canapi Ventures Enables 2-year-old Startup Able

An investment by Canapi Ventures is increasing the capacity of a tech startup to serve commercial lenders. Canapi led the recent Series A ca...

Book On Business

The 2022 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!


Galleries

Videos

Trying to Grow a Business?
2020 Health Care Heroes
2020 WilmingtonBiz 100