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  • Story Hour and Craft 10 a.m. - 11 a.m. Carolina
  • Kitchen Table Talk 10:30 a.m. - Noon Westerly
  • Fellowship soup kitchen 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Charlestown
  • RIBC Blood Drive 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. Westerly
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  • Who Cares About Kelsey? 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. Westerly
  • PJ Storytime 6:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. Westerly
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    The Dawn Princess dwarfs the 58-foot tall Ledge Light lighthouse at the mouth of the Thames River, foreground, on the way to State Pier in New London on Tuesday. | Michael Souza / The Press

    Stonington-based organization attracts cruise ship to New London

    STONINGTON — When the Dawn Princess sailed into the port of New London Tuesday as part of her around-the-world cruise from Sydney, Australia, it was an eye-catching sight. The mega-ship dominated the skyline from Avery Point to the State Pier, seemingly swallowing-up everything in its path.

    The 854-foot cruise ship is a small city, with 2,000 passengers and 924 crew members. It is 185 feet tall, consisting of a staggering 15 stories. While sitting at the State Pier, its mass dwarfed even the Gold Star Memorial Bridge.

    Although scheduled to stay only one day in the Whaling City, the stop was a large victory for the Connecticut Cruise Ship Task Force.

    “For us to get this it means a lot,” said Gorge A. Cassidy, executive director of the task force.

    Based out of Lords Point, the nonprofit organization is the state’s recruiting element for attracting large cruise ships into Connecticut ports.

    “Basically that means New London because there’s a lot of space. New London is a deep-water port with a 1,000 foot pier and a depth of 35 feet. New London has the facilities,” he said in reference to the Admiral Harold E. Shear State Pier.

    According to Cassidy, the process by which the task force solidifies a commitment with a cruise line to host one of its stays takes about 9 months; the agreement for this stop was completed last fall.

    One key factor is that passengers are welcomed and accommodated. “We treat them well,” he said.

    Another factor is the wealth of attractions in the area, including Mystic Seaport, Olde Mistick Village, Mystic Aquarium, tours of New London (transportation included), the Essex Steam Train and even Newport R.I., a competing port.

    “We provide the information on the possible shoreline excursions, but it’s the cruise line that ultimately decides what’s available,” he said.

    Currently, Cassidy is working on attracting a cruise ship for a three-day stay in New London for next year. No other information is currently available as negotiations are still ongoing.

    The ship left Sydney on May 18 and sailed to India and Dubai, traveled through the Greek Islands, Italy, Spain and Portugal to Southampton, England.

    Leaving England on July 12, she stopped in Ireland and then sailed across the Atlantic to Boston before heading to New London. She was scheduled to leave for Manhattan today. After another one-day stay, she is headed for the Caribbean, then through the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean, and back to Sydney, her home port.

    While here, the ship received a nautical water cannon salute and a welcoming by the Nutmeg Fife & Drum Corp.

    Cassidy estimates that since the organization’s 2001 start, about 35 cruise ships have stopped in Connecticut. Princess Cruises, specifically the Crown Princess (2010) and the Royal Princess (five stops in 2008), are familiar with the city.

    Other visitors have included Regal Empress (Imperial Cruise Line), four visits from the Maasdam, (Holland America Line) the Orion (Travel Dynamics International), the Veendam, (Holland America Line), Explorer of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International), and the National Geographic Explorer (Lindblad Expeditions) in 2008.

    For more information on the task force, contact ctcruiseship.com.



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