Cruises resume in the 1000 Islands with Stage 3 reopening
The IDA M II docked at Rockport Cruises on day one of the cruise season. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)
BROCKVILLE -- After a long three-month wait, Rockport Cruises is back on the water in the 1000 Islands.
"Today finally is our first day of cruises!” said Kathleen Allen, President and General Manager of Rockport Cruises on Friday morning.
"The phone has been ringing off the hook, so we’re very happy about that....to be able to let people know that we are open.”
The cruise line has only one boat in the water at the moment and only offering the one-and-a-half hour cruise option.
COVID-19 safety protocols are in place on the boat to keep staff and visitors safe.
“Of course we are at reduced capacity but it allows us to run with a maximum of 50 passengers. It at least gets us started with our season,” Allen said.
A full boat can hold up to 250 people. On the Friday early cruise, 25 people attended the maiden 2020 voyage.
"We do have the provincial and local regional safety guidelines in place, so mask wearing is mandatory on the boat and social distancing, and we sanitize between each trip,” Allen said.
“There’s lots of open air decks on our boats as well so that will make people feels safe that they can come and enjoy the outdoors.”
For Capt. Michael Ossowski, he’s just happy to be working again.
"You get a lot of the local people who traditionally come back to work here every year, families, multi-generation sort of thing. So as generations, the next kids come along and they work here so it's important to all the local people to get that summer job before they go off to school and everything,” Ossowski said.
“Then of course there are the crews for the boats too. A lot of them are the older retired types like myself who are looking for something to do in the summertime and they look forward to coming back.”
Friday's tour headed upriver to the Canadian side of the 1000 Islands Bridge, then headed for U.S. waters to circle around Boldt Castle and up along the American shore.
For passengers, it was nice to finally get out for a tour this summer.
“I feel really, really better. It is a good thing. I feel like free, you know?” said Sami, visiting from Montreal.
"This is the second time I've come here and I love it so much."
Another family from Montreal said they didn’t mind wearing face masks for the duration of the cruise.
“It's not a problem at all. It’s good,” said the father.
“You have to be safe.” said his daughter, snapping photos of the scenic views.
A business that relies heavily on foreign tourists, they are hoping locals will come visit for the first time or plan staycations in the area.
“A lot of local people don’t even know were here. No matter how much you market it, a lot of the local people say 'I don't even know where Rockport is’, so yeah it will definitely help,” said Ossowski.
“We hope to see people down here in Rockport, whether it's for day trip or if you’re planning a staycation, Rockport is the perfect destination to include in that plan,” added Allen.
“A great number of international travellers visit us which, now of course, with the borders closed we won't see any of that business this year, so we’re relying on the local support of people spending time in this area and getting out and enjoying their own backyard.”
Reservations can be made online or by calling Rockport Cruises directly.