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Another step forward for Viking Cruises

Published: Dec. 18, 2020 at 7:45 PM CST
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -

It’s another step forward for Viking Cruises.

Friday, Panama City Port Authority approved a letter of intent with the cruise line to open Panama City as a port of call.

“Panama City would be the very first port in the call after leaving their homeport,” Panama City Port Authority Executive Director Wayne Stubbs said.

However, with the surge in COVID-19 cases, Stubbs is unsure when the cruise ship will arrive.

The first ships were planned to initially arrive as early as January.

“We’re not even sure if the CDC is going to ultimately approve it but we’re doing everything we can to help them with their plan,” Stubbs said.

Even though the official start date is in the air, local businesses are still hopeful for the potential of new weekly customers.

“All of the businesses are very excited and they’re looking forward to the potential of having a new influx of people especially mid-week,” Destination Panama City President and CEO Jennifer Vigil said.

“The thought that almost a thousand people once a week have the opportunity to come experience our hometown that we take for granted every day is absolutely an amazing opportunity for every single person that lives in Bay County,” Sunjammers owner Brad Stephens said.

The ship is expected to bring more than 900 people to Bay County during its weekly stop.

St. Andrews business owners are looking for ways to capitalize on the opportunity.

“Boat’s here for six hours, they’re going to be off the boat for roughly four hours, what can we do to maximize their time in St. Andrews and honestly maximize the amount of dollars they spend with us while they’re here on vacation,” Stephens said.

As for what excursions will be offered, that’s still undetermined.

“Their position is please leave that to us and we’ll make the outreach at the right time,” Stubbs said. “That’s what we’re doing. We put them in touch with the TDC, the downtown TDC, hopefully, they’ll be reaching out to them first.”

For now, local officials said the ball is in the cruise line’s court.

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