Cruise ship rings in holiday spirit

POULSBO — The waterways between Little Norway and downtown Seattle will once again be filled with passenger-only ferry service today as the Victoria Clipper is set to dock downtown today for Jule Fest.

“We’ll probably have 100 people or so leaving from Pier 59 and this our second time using the boat,” said Janis Smith, vice president of sales and marketing for Clipper Navigation, Inc. in Seattle.

Throughout the year, the company organizes getaways to regional events like today’s festival from 4-6 p.m. at Waterfront Park.

While the boat is primarily used for trips to the San Juan Islands during the spring and summer, it is normally available during the winter months, she said.

“We’re always looking around for different things and we always prefer to use the boat,” Smith said, noting that the company also sponsors motorcoaches to events when the boat is unavailable.

A repeat visit from the cruise ship brought an extra dose of Christmas cheer to Sons of Norway administrator Mariann Samuelsen as she put the final touches on Jule Fest preparations.

“It’s wonderful for us and it’s also wonderful for the whole city,” Samuelsen said.

Even though many of the visitors will come to the Sons’ holiday bazaar, other businesses downtown will also benefit from the influx of guests, she said, adding that parking won’t be a problem for them.

The interest from a company like Clipper Navigation adds extra importance to preparing downtown for the holiday season, Samuelsen said.

“I think it’s important for all the service organizations to get together and decorate the town, so people will see something different,” she said.

Lights, candlaria, sheafs of oats and other holiday decorations help bring out the city’s cultural heritage and set it apart from other destinations in the region, she said.

“Having a lighted up downtown makes a big, big difference,” Samuelsen said, noting that the Masonic lodge, North Kitsap/Poulsbo Rotary Club and a host of other organizations have aided efforts to spruce up the city for the season.

The ship’s arrival was welcome news to the Greater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce, said Executive Director Stuart Leidner.

“It’s outstanding and it’s a good opportunity for people to come see Poulsbo,” Leidner said. “It’s a unique way for people to come over and enjoy our celebration.”

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