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Community expects tour boats this month

A WELCOMING GROUP of “Floozies,” pioneers and a horse-drawn carriage wait in 2012 for the arrival of a tour boat at the Union Street marine terminal.

Photo by Kathy Ursprung
A WELCOMING GROUP of “Floozies,” pioneers and a horse-drawn carriage wait in 2012 for the arrival of a tour boat at the Union Street marine terminal.

Tour schedule starts April 17

Tour boats from three cruise companies will be docking at the Union Street marine terminal in downtown The Dalles starting April 17.

Business owners may want to consider making special accommodations for passengers who want to visit local businesses and attractions (see related story, A1).

Queen of the West, Lindblad National Geographic Sea Bird and Sea Lion, and Safari Legacy.

Confirmed times and dates (subject to change):

Queen of the West tours are the only visits currently scheduled between April and early September.

Wed., 4/17 (Noon - 6PM)

Mon., 4/22 (1PM) - Tues., 4/23 (8AM) - Overnight

Wed., 5/01 (Noon - 6PM)

Mon., 5/06 (1PM) - Tue., 5/07 (8AM) - Overnight

Wed., 5/15 (Noon - 6PM)

Mon., 5/20 (1PM) - Tue., 5/21 (8AM) - Overnight

Wed., 5/29 (Noon - 6PM)

Mon., 6/03 (1PM) - Tue., 6/04 (8AM) - Overnight

Wed., 6/12 (Noon - 6PM)

Mon., 6/17 (1PM) - Tue., 6/18 (8AM) - Overnight

Wed., 6/26 (Noon - 6PM)

Mon., 7/01 (1PM) - Tue., 7/02 (8AM) - Overnight

Wed., 7/10 (Noon - 6PM)

Mon., 7/15 (1PM) - Tue., 7/16 (8AM) - Overnight

Wed., 7/24 (Noon - 6PM)

Mon., 7/29 (1PM) - Tue., 7/30 (8AM) - Overnight

Wed., 8/07 (Noon - 6PM)

Mon., 8/12 (1PM) - Tue., 8/13 (8AM) - Overnight

Wed., 8/21 (Noon - 6PM)

Mon., 8/26 (1PM) - Tue., 8/27 (8AM) - Overnight

Wed., 9/04 (Noon - 6PM)

Mon., 9/09 (1PM) - Tue., 9/10 (8AM) - Overnight (→)

The other companies are added to the mix in the fall:

Thur., 9/12 (7AM - 3:30PM) - Safari

Mon., 9/16 (7AM - 2PM) ̶ NG Sea Lion

Tue., 9/17 (7AM - 2PM) ̶ NG Sea Bird

Wed., 9/18 (Noon - 6PM) – Queen of the West

Thur., 9/19 (7AM - 3:30PM) – Safari

Sun., 9/22 (7AM) - Mon., 9/23 (5AM) ̶ NG Sea Lion - Overnight

Mon., 9/23 (7AM) - Tue., 9/24 (5AM) ̶ NG Sea Bird - Overnight

Thur., 9/26 (7AM - 3:30PM) – Safari

Sun., 9/29 (8AM - 2PM) ̶ NG Sea Bird

Wed., 10/02 (Noon - 6PM) – Queen of the West

Thur., 10/03 (7AM - 3:30PM) – Safari

Sat., 10/05 (7AM) - Sun., 10/06 (5AM) ̶ NG Sea Bird - Overnight

Mon., 10/07 (1PM) - Tue., 10/08 (8AM) ̶ Overnight – Queen of the West

Thur., 10/10 (7AM - 3:30PM) – Safari

Tue., 10/11 (7AM - 2PM) ̶ NG Sea Bird

Wed., 10/16 (Noon - 6PM) – Queen of the West

Thur., 10/17 (7AM) - Fri., 10/18 (5AM) ̶ NG Sea Bird - Overnight

Mon., 10/21 (1PM) - Tue., 10/22 (8AM) ̶ Overnight – Queen of the West

Wed., 10/23 (7AM - 2PM) ̶ NG Sea Bird

Thur., 10/24 (7AM - 3:30PM) – Safari

Tue., 10/29 (7AM) - Wed., 10/30 (5AM) ̶ NG Sea Bird - Overnight

Wed., 10/30 (Noon - 6PM) – Queen of the West

Thur., 10/31 (7AM - 3:30PM) – Safari

Mon., 11/04 (1PM) - Tue., 11/05 (8AM) ̶ Overnight – Queen of the West

Thur., 11/07 (7AM - 3:30PM) – Safari

Wed., 11/13 (Noon - 6PM) – Safari

Thur., 11/14 (7AM - 3:30PM) – Safari

Thur., 11/21 (7AM - 3:30PM) – Safari

Thur., 11/28 (7AM - 3:30PM) – Safari

The return of tour boats to the Union Street marine terminal is just around the corner and local people are working with a goal of making The Dalles a destination travelers just can’t pass up.

“A couple of companies said ‘No one has greeted us like that,’” said Lisa Farquharson, executive director of The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce. “We left an experience with them that made them want to come back.”

Part of that experience is being greeted by costumed “Fort Dalles Floozies” who are on deck at each arrival to roll out some community hospitality.

“We are working on a walking tour of the ‘Places of Negotiable Affections,’ where we will not only talk about the architecture of the downtown buildings, but also point out the places that had ‘rooms’ for women of the evening,” said Mary Davis, one of the Floozies, who said the plans are in the works, but the tour might not be launched until next year.”

Davis said the Floozies welcome and encourage townspeople to meet the ships with them on arrival. They are also looking for small musical groups willing to meet the ship.

“A costume is not needed to join in the welcoming festivities — just enthusiasm for The Dalles and its future,” Davis said.

Farquharson envisions more costumed greeters, possibly garbed as the explorers Lewis and Clark, or an old-time sheriff to coordinate carriage rides. They will also provide information on tours of The Dalles Dam, when they start next month and are working to coordinate transportation to the dam visitor’s center, she added.

Each debarking visitor will also receive a packet of information on Chamber member businesses they might want to visit. Eventually, they will also get information on the Charm Trail which the Chamber expects to launch around Mother’s Day. The Chamber recently received the design for the first charm, which represents all of The Dalles and plays of the city’s tourism slogan: The Dalles, Oregon: Simply Sunsational.

Farquharson encouraged local businesses to be keep the docking schedules in mind and plan staffing and other activities accordingly.

“We haven’t been guaranteed the guests are going to get off the ship and wander,” she said, noting that tour schedules are made a year in advance at most guests have the opportunity to bus to Maryhill Museum of Art or the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. “But there’s a chance some may get off the ship and wander and explore. Our businesses need to be ready for possible tourism.”

Quite a few overnight stays are planned, so businesses may want to extend hours on those evenings, she added.

“We need to be ready just in case,” she said. She urged businesses to consider the Charm Tour, which is open to Chamber members.

“It seems like a small thing, but it can be really beneficial to the different businesses on the tour,” she said.

She also urged shop owners to dress up their windows, make them attractive and display merchandise.

“If you don’t think you might be a tourist attraction, look at your business: Is there something that can be displayed in your window?” she asked. “Maybe you can hand out brochures or maps that can help people who are wandering. We can all be involved in tourism.”

If you want to know more about the Chamber’s marketing and tourism efforts, consider attending the Marketing and Tourism Committee meetings. It meets the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at 8:30 a.m. at Brama Caffee.

Longtime The Dalles travel agent Dolores Habberstad is working with local groups and tour boat companies to encourage the tour companies to add The Dalles as a place to explore on their passenger itineraries. She said last fall a few changed their itineraries, just after the marine terminal opened, to stay overnight in The Dalles.

Habberstad points to Astoria as a model. The coastal town often plays host to ocean-going tour vessels and rolls out the red carpet in welcome. She said local attractions like the dam and local museums present opportunities to draw people into the community. She hopes local businesses will play a role by providing a vendor presence at the festival area, starting carriage or taxi rides from the perimeter, and offering wine tastings.

“People, on average, if they have time, spend between $100 and $150 per person in each town they stop in,” Habberstad said. “That’s the economic impact of these ships stopping.”

The City of The Dalles has changed its transient merchant permit to allow for sales booths at the festival area. Those permits are available through the Finance Department at City Hall.


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