Originally created 05/19/00

Ship gives urgency to dock work



BRUNSWICK, Ga. - Last week's announcement that a New Orleans cruise ship will visit up to 30 times a year has given urgency to repairs on the city's dock.

The condition of the 700-foot dock at the end of Gloucester Street has been a subject of debate for more than a year. Its fender system is so deteriorated that small shrimp boats have drifted below the dock at low tide and been caught there by the rising tide.

City Commissioners planned to discuss those repairs during their meeting last night. A complete overhaul of the dock could cost as much as $300,000, but a quicker fix that would stop ongoing deterioration and make the dock usable would cost much less, said Brian Thompson, director of the Downtown Development Authority.

Estimates on those repairs are expected next week.

In addition to the $500 daily docking charge it would pay, the cruise ship would provide a boost to the city's economy, Mr. Thompson said. It would become the second cruise ship to regularly visit the city.

"With the Nantucket Clipper coming now 11 times a year, it would be a nice addition to downtown," Mr. Thompson said.

On its stopovers between Charleston, S.C., and Jacksonville, Fla., the 200-foot Nantucket Clipper usually brings about 125 passengers. The ship, which recently switched from docking on St. Simons Island to the Brunswick city dock, usually spreads out five or six visits in October and November and again in March and April, Mr. Thompson said.

Delta Queen Coastal Voyages of New Orleans has said its Grand Antebellum Adventure cruises would follow basically the same route as the Nantucket Clipper with stops in Beaufort, S.C., Savannah, Brunswick and Jacksonville when the trips start in about 18 months, Mr. Thompson said.

The 300-foot ship making runs from Charleston to Jacksonville would bring at least 200 people and more than triple the number of cruise ship visits, Mr. Thompson said.

Visiting cruise ship passengers do a variety of things but most walk the short distance to the downtown area for lunch or dinner and do some shopping. With the Grand Antebellum Adventure cruises, buses could pick up passengers at the dock for trips to golf courses or tours of St. Simons and Jekyll islands, Mr. Thompson said.

City Manager Roosevelt Harris said a larger ship calling on the city dock adds a new component to ongoing repair studies.

He must still assess the needs at the dock but it may be possible to make temporary repairs to accommodate both cruise ships and the shrimp boats that tie up there now, Mr. Harris said.