MUSKEGON -- The Pearl Mist is a 335 foot long, six deck luxury cruise ship that makes trips through the Great Lakes every year. This year its crew decided to stop at Heritage Landing in Muskegon, after discovering the city on accident.
"Last year they had to be diverted," said Terry Sabo, Chairman of the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners. "This very same ship was diverted here from Holland and we really think they liked what they saw here in Muskegon and the opportunities that were here, so we made our sales pitch to have them come back and they certainly liked that and they were more than willing."
Now, Muskegon is one of twelve stops on the Pearl Mist's eleven day journey between Toronto and Chicago. The ship can hold as many as 210 passengers. We caught up with some of the passengers on board today, and got their impressions of the Port City.
"What a delightful welcome," said Ellen Fernandez, a passenger from Texas. "It's the first we've had and it's just been spontaneous and feeling like we -- as the mayor said -- we're part of a family now."
Ann Frobose was also on board the Pearl Mist. She's from Michigan originally, but hasn't been to Muskegon in 70 years. "It was a wonderful welcome," she said. "I haven't seen the city yet, but we were really pleased with how glad you are to see us. And I'm really glad to be back."
Passengers were greeted by the Mayor, and a group of barbershop singers from different parts of West Michigan. City leaders hope to attract more cruise ships to town, and more visitors in general.
"We just think it's a big, big thing for Muskegon as a whole and we're hoping, of course, that these passengers come back and visit again when they can stay longer," said Sabo.
If you didn't see the Pearl Mist this time around, it will be back this Sunday morning at 8 a.m. It also has eight other scheduled stops in Muskegon throughout the summer.