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Monday, December 22, 2014
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Published: Monday, 12/16/2013

COMMENTARY

Hey, cruise lines, Toledo’s ready and waiting

BY TOM WALTON
BLADE COLUMNIST
Walton Walton
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It appears that the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority is at least reconsidering its indifference to the notion of welcoming Great Lakes cruise ships to Toledo. Let’s hope so.

Faithful readers of this column — both of you know who you are — will recall that we had some fun in an October piece with the port authority’s reluctance. We described a mock orientation briefing by a cruise director who outlined all the wonderful shore excursions available to his passengers during their call on the Port of Toledo.

So I was impressed two weeks ago when Stephen Burnett, executive director of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition, cited the same list of can’t-miss attractions touted by our imaginary cruise director when Mr. Burnett made his pitch to a group of port authority board members and others.

A dozen or so readers’ email reactions to our original column were unanimously positive. One man said he was sending the piece to out-of-state friends who never visit Toledo, in the hope of enticing them here. A Toledo woman said she’d take a Great Lakes cruise just to visit her home city as a tourist.

When that many people take the time to get in touch and express their agreement, it tells me the notion is pretty popular across the board. Normally, a dozen emails mean a dozen people are unhappy with something I’ve written. Not this time.

Ten years ago, a governing agency on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula in California said no to cruise ships after allowing one to visit as an experiment. The environmental impact on the pristine Monterey Bay was judged to be too great a risk after the ship dumped more than 36,000 gallons of gray water, black water, and bilge water in the bay’s marine sanctuary.

Officials in Monterey have relented in recent years. Cruise ships again occasionally visit, but only after cruise lines pledge in writing that nothing will be dumped overboard.

While western Lake Erie warrants similar concern and protection, that ship may have already sailed, if you’ll pardon the expression. We’ve already got Facility 3, a man-made landfill in Maumee Bay that scares me a lot more — especially after a heavy rain — than the environmental threat of an occasional tourist ship.

All that is necessary at this point is a formal vote of the port board at its meeting this week to rejoin the coalition and put Toledo back on the nautical charts of Great Lakes tourist ships. Otherwise, the money tourists generate will continue to go someplace else.

We’re talking about annual dues to the coalition of just $3,750. Maybe in the spirit of the season, we can persuade the Old Newsboys to take up a collection.

It’s Common Sense 101. With a terminal already in place in the Marina District — Toledo Skyway Marina, which opened in June, 2008, to accommodate Great Lakes cruise ships — it seems so simple. Its proximity to a new National Museum of the Great Lakes, set to open next spring, should be viewed as a plus. Visitors who exit their ship could make the museum their first stop.

Build it and they will come? It’s not necessary. We’ve already built it. Now let them come.

In this cell-phone world we live in, we’ve all been subjected to the unexpected and intrusive ring tone of a phone that should have been silenced, but wasn’t. Maybe it’s in a movie theater, or a crowded doctor’s office — any place where common courtesy and consideration for others would suggest turning the danged thing off.

Especially in church. During a wedding.

Wait, it gets better. A friend who shared the incident could not get through the whole story without cracking up. It seems a cell phone jangled to life in the middle of the wedding vows, and the noise appeared to be coming from somewhere near the wedding party.

It was impossible to ignore, though the bride and groom tried. Finally, exasperated and hugely embarrassed, the bride turned to the assembled witnesses and confessed: “It’s mine.”

Eventually the phone shut up, to the enormous relief of all in attendance.

Later, the mother of the bride confided the source of the annoying interruption. It was a programmed heads-up call to the bride to remind her about her birth control pill.

Somehow, the above seems to segue nicely to this. We wrote awhile back about the shortest complete sentence from literature: “Jesus wept.” Reader Jim Dandar offers two words he suggests are the longest sentence in the English language: “I do.”

Thomas Walton is the retired editor and vice president of The Blade. His column appears every other Monday. His commentary, “Life As We Know It,” can be heard each Monday at 5:44 p.m. on WGTE-FM 91.

Contact him at: twalton@theblade.com



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