Tuesday’s off-and-on rain didn’t keep passengers from Holland America’s Veendam cruise ship off Gloucester’s city streets.
It didn’t dampen Neal and Linda Schulman’s appreciation for the city, either.
The couple left the Veendam for a tour of the island, given by their cousin, Sara Saintours of Norwell. Neal Schulman said the gray skies fit the ambiance of a historic city.
The Schulmans, from Seattle, sat with Saintours in a booth at the Gloucester House, looking out at the docked schooner Thomas E. Lannon.
Neal Shulman said history back home isn’t like what he found in Gloucester. Back on the West Coast, a 75- or 80-year-old building is historic Here, he said, buildings are hundreds of years old.
“It’s reeking with history,” Schulman said, “you can kind of feel it.”
Holland America’s Veendam, a 1,350 passenger cruise ship with a crew of 580, had come from New York, and Gloucester was the first stop on a cruise that’s heading up into the Canadian Maritimes before ending in Montreal.
The Veendam’s arrival in Gloucester Harbor Tuesday kicked the city’s cruise season kicks into high gear. Holland America’s 2,200 passenger Eurodam ship pulls into the harbor on Sunday, Sept. 16, and returns twice in early October. Smaller cruise ships, American Glory, Nobel Caledonia, Seven Seas and Sebourn will continue to visit intermittently.
The Veendam pulled into a foggy Gloucester Harbor at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. The ship anchored in the outer harbor, and dominated the horizon from Stacy Boulevard. Passengers rode into Cruiseport on large life boats that served as tending vessels, and passengers left heading for Gloucester’s downtown, or onto excursions into Salem and Rockport, said Sheree DeLorenzo, who runs Cruiseport. The Veendam had an excursion headed for Hammond Castle as well, she added.
The rest of the passengers either started walking or hopped on a Cape Ann Transit Authority bus or trolley and headed downtown or toward Rocky Neck.
“This is their only destination that has transportation waiting for people at the door,” said CATA chief Bob Ryan.
Saintours drove two hours up from Norwell to take the Schulman’s around Gloucester and Rockport, from the Back Shore to Bearskin Neck. She said she had come up on Sunday to scope out the area.
Tuesday wasn’t the first time in Gloucester for passengers Michael and Bonnie Cervino of Salt Lake City. They came before, when Bonnie was studying Sicilian fishing culture. She said she found a dissertation on Sicillian fishing music and heard one of the songs mentioned on the radio, sung in Gloucester. They said they came back to see the city again, as part of a cruise up through other northeastern ports they wanted to visit.
Bonnie Cervino said she and her husband spent the day looking around the city. She said she enjoyed the Cape Ann Museum.
“It’s a real gem,” she said.
The couple stopped for lunch and The Gloucester House and went looking for a way to the Rocky Neck Art Colony.
Tuesday marked the Veendam’s first visit to Gloucester, and DeLorenzo said that shows the city’s reputation as a cruise port is increasingly taking hold.
“It’s really good to see,” she said, “I wish the weather was better, but people still had a good time.”
Some, like the Cervino’s say they’d like to come back on their own soon.
“We’d like to come back and do an auto tour,” Michael Cervino said.
Steven Fletcher can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3455, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @StevenGDT