First U.S. flag cruise ship in 83 years to visit Saugatuck

Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The first U.S. flag cruise ship in 83 years will visit Saugatuck Sunday, just days following the official departure of the 105-year-old SS Keewatin, which was towed from its 45-year location in dry dock to return to Canada.

The Yorktown, owned by Travel Dynamics of New York, will stop in Saugatuck during its inaugural visit to the Great Lakes, and Saugatuck will be its first port of call in Michigan. The ship is to arrive at 7 a.m. and will dock at Wicks Park on Water Street in downtown Saugatuck.

“This visit is significant because it will be the first U.S. Flag Ship in our harbor since Goodrich Steamship lines left here on Labor Day in 1929,” said Felicia Fairchild, the executive director of the Saugatuck-Douglas Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“Since 9/11, US Homeland Security regulations have made it very difficult and costly for foreign cruise ships to tour the Great Lakes,” Fairchild said.

The Yorktown which has an 8-foot draft, has been put into service in the Great Lakes to accommodate a growing number of experienced cruise passengers who are seeking new and unusual destinations that also provide some historic and educational experiences. They are interested in visiting smaller ports where larger cruise ships can’t go.

The Yorktown will return to Saugatuck on June 29,  July 1,  July 13,  July 15,  Aug. 17 and Aug. 19.

A boat parade will escort The Yorktown as it enters the harbor, where a welcome ceremony will take place at 7 a.m.

Prior to The Yorktown’s departure at 6 p.m., the Casco band will perform in the gazebo beginning at 4:30 p.m.

“The Visitors Bureau is looking forward to many families treating their fathers to an excursion to Saugatuck on Father’s Day to watch this beautiful ship arrive and depart from our port,” Fairchild said. “We are also going to try and set up a live stream broadcast on our website at for those who can’t attend in person.”

Call (269) 857-1701 for more information.