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Detroit places economic hopes on cruise ship dock

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Jeremy Hobson: When you think of ports of call for cruise ships you might think Miami or even Anchorage. Probably not Detroit.

But, as Michigan Radio’s Sarah Hulett reports, a new cruise terminal is coming to the Motor City this month.

Sarah Hulett: Work crews are putting the finishing touches on Detroit’s $22 million cruise ship and ferry terminal. The project was financed mostly with federal dollars.

Steven Olinek is with the Detroit-Wayne County Port Authority. He stands in front of a corrugated steel and glass building, looking out onto a brand new concrete wharf in the Detroit River. He and other supporters hope it will help bring back the once-thriving Great Lakes cruise industry. But as of now, Olinek admits there are not many cruise ships waiting to dock in Detroit.

Steven Olinek: But my sense and the sense of others involved in this revitalization of the trade is that once one of these large operators got involved in the trade, they would be very successful and others would follow.

Leon Drolet: What we have here is a boondoggle.

Leon Drolet is the director of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance.

Drolet: Detroit doesn’t need a cruise ship stop. That money that went to the cruise ship dock, if it went to police officers, I think a lot more people would have felt good about it.

Port officials expect two calls this summer — from a Great Lakes cruise ship, and one from a tall ship. But no other cruise stops are scheduled.

In Detroit, I’m Sarah Hulett for Marketplace.

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