The Grand Mariner, a 184-foot cruise ship from Cleveland, and its 40 passengers arrived at the new Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority Public Dock and Terminal (DWCPA) in mid-July 2011, making it the first large cruise ship to use the long-awaited dock and facility. While the passengers spent the day visiting Detroit area attractions, a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place in front of the cruise ship and the new $22 million facility. Among the dignitaries who took part in the ceremony were Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, U.S. Senator Carl Levin, U.S. Rep. Hansen Clark, and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano. Senator Levin was a driving force behind this project, which received federal funds and grants and was years in the making.
The port, a 1.2 acre site, is located between Hart Plaza and the Renaissance Center along Detroit’s revitalized riverfront area. The 21,000-square-foot Port Authority Terminal building overlooks the 250-foot offshore Port Authority Wharf and the three-mile riverwalk between Cobo Hall and Rivard Street. The project is the key to hopes of luring Great Lakes cruise ships, dinner cruisers, tour boats, tall ships and other vessels which will, in turn, have a direct economic and positive impact on the city of Detroit, “e have been working hard to restore Detroit as a destination for the Great Lakes cruising industry,” said John Jamian, president and CEO of the DWCPA, “This port becomes an essential piece of a continuation of the rebuilding of this city.”
Detroit was on of the only cities with a major port to not have a modern public dock and passenger terminal. Without a dock, the Great Lakes cruising industry has been dormant in Detroit since 1967. This industry has reemerged as a growing market and is having a strong economic impact on cities throughout the Great Lakes region, including Chicago, Cleveland, Toledo, and Windsor. Says Jamian, “The new public dock and terminal will provide residents and visitors direct access to the river. It is a vital part of the overall vision for a transformed Detroit Riverfront and a contender in the Great Lakes tourism market.” in 2012, there will be an estimated 14 visits by Great Lakes cruise ships.