A boat that once called Lake Champlain home
set sail on Lake Memphremagog Wednesday night after quite a
It was a who's who of the
Newport business world aboard the Northern Star -- after a few photo ops -- and
some final preparations -- around 7 p.m. the cruise ship launched into the lake.
"We're firm believers that
the future for Newport is really, really bright," explained boat Captain Chris
Johansen bought the
Northern Star last year -- she used to be an overnight cruise ship called
Moonlight Lady on Lake Champlain. It
took just three weeks to take apart and truck her up the interstate -- but five
more months to bring her back to life.
The Captain hopes the changes will make passengers feel more like
they're on a yacht -- than a public vessel. The cocktails and live music sure
"We just want them to
enjoy themselves. And this boat, I truly believe has a purpose in this town,"
Newport has been in an economic
recession for years, but is slowly starting to see change. Many in the business community think the boat
is part of the new wave.
"It's a great way to get
more people downtown, and to be using our restaurants and our shopping and
seeing our library and our other jewels that are downtown," explained Patricia
Sears with the Newport City Renaissance.
City officials are banking
on the 1 and a half hour tour, breathtaking views -- and novelty that once
aboard -- you spend some time in Canadian waters -- will attract day-trippers
from around the state.
"Lots of people come to
town looking for things to do -- tourists -- and we had a boat in the lake a
few years ago and they keep coming and asking ‘when does the boat run? when
does the boat run?' and so I really think this is going to be good for tourists
and good for us," said John Ward, the Newport City Manager.
Though the boat is a big
investment -- Johansen did captain cruise ships on the lake in the 90s but more
recently was at the helm of the Spirit of Ethan Allen in Burlington -- so he
feels it's a business model that will stay afloat.
"We did it before in years
past. We have a track record, and we felt that bringing a much higher scale
boat to the area -- the timing was perfect," explained Johansen.
Now that the Northern Lady
is officially open for business -- tours will take place many times a day --
and tickets start at $16.95.
"I think this is awesome.
It's really nice. It's a real smooth ride and it's just great," said Diane
Ward, a passenger of the first cruise.
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