Ship boat

Following cancellations, cruise ship Viking Octantis will dock at Portage Canal

HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) — Many in Houghton are hoping the weather will stay good, at least through July 27.

On this date, the Viking Octantis cruise ship plans to dock in the Portage Canal. The Octantis was originally scheduled to visit Houghton on June 1 and 29. However, due to bad weather, every stop was cancelled.

“On the first trip it was very windy and they actually cleaned up another stop right in front of us because of the weather,” Houghton town manager Eric Waara said. “Then the second time, just a few weeks ago, we had morning fog on the Portage.”

According to Waara, the 665-foot-long cruise ship is larger than many ships that enter the Portage Canal.

“This particular vessel has a unique problem in the channel where it is too high to pass under the lift bridge,” Waara noted. “We have ships and big craft going by all the time. The bridge goes up, they pass under the bridge and they continue their merry way.

This problem alone makes docking difficult. Combined with bad weather and it becomes even more difficult. Waara says the town of Houghton has identified other places the Octantis could dock. He added that the city is doing this to give the Octantis options in case the weather turns gloomy.

“They could be coming from the northern entrance to the Portage Canal,” Waara said. “They could use other places or locations in the channel where other ships that are actually longer than this one have turned around.”

Waara added that a vessel much longer than the Octantis brings salt to Houghton each year to prepare for winter routes.

“We gave some suggestions and ideas based on what the salt boat does when it comes the same way,” Waara pointed out.

According to Visit Keweenaw executive director Brad Barnett, many are patiently waiting for the ship to arrive.

“We have a really passionate community that follows the big ships that enter the Keweenaw Waterway,” Barnett pointed out. “They’ve been really disappointed when it’s been canceled the last few times, so I know people are very curious. Especially about the Octantis because it’s such a beautiful ship.

The plan is to ferry passengers inland from the Octantis once it docks. Waara added that the town of Houghton is awaiting the final docking plan from Viking Cruises.

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