After years of “drive-by” calls at the Port of Kalama (Washington USA), an ACL-American Cruise Line's ship arrived at a dedicated cruise ship dock on Friday, April 15, which was a change expected to boost area tourism.
A couple of hundred community members, ACL officials, and passengers gathered at the Marine Park of the Port for an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at the dock.
The port has been working with American since 2019 to develop the cruise ship dock as an alternative to beach access. The company invested US$1 million of the US$3.5 million project and is going to get preferred usage of the dock for its small ships and sternwheelers. Construction started in 2021 and wrapped up earlier in 2022.
Community members can now use the dock when cruise vessels are not in port.
American Cruise Lines operates river cruises on the Snake and Columbia rivers and is the only cruise company that currently docks in Kalama. The vessels had been anchoring at the beach at Ahles Point, ~half a mile from Marine Park.
The dock allows the vessels to stay overnight, giving passengers more time to visit the town, said Alexa Paolella, American Cruise Lines PR manager. The company is developing new shore excursions and activities for guests while in Kalama, to go along with the trip to Mount Saint Helens.
The dock project includes improvements to the walkways around Marine Park, in part to accommodate cruisers, Dan Polacek, a port spokesman, said. The port widened areas for emergency vehicles and the path running from the amphitheater to Louis Rasmussen Park. A new path was added around Marine Park to give more options and access to the Mountain Timber Market, on the south side of the park.
The 33,665 square-foot market includes 24 vendor stalls, 11 permanent store spaces, a distillery, and a courtyard on the 1st floor. The 2nd floor includes lodging, a conference room, and a restaurant.
Port earnings and reserves will fund the US$12 to US$14 million project. The port went out to bid for the project in February 2022 and is considering proposals.
The market is expected to open by summer 2023.