NORFOLK, Va. — Docked near Town Point Park in Norfolk sits a white cruise ship yacht, very similar to the Spirit of Norfolk, but written on the side of the vessel is, "Spirit of Mount Vernon."
The ship sailed from Washington D.C. to Hampton Roads. Leaders with City Cruises say they quickly refurbished the boat to get it down to us for special events.
This comes just over two months after the Spirit of Norfolk caught fire with dozens of young students, teachers, and parents on board. Nobody was hurt, but the Spirit of Norfolk was destroyed. The fire is still under investigation.
"A lot of our focus is getting the [Spirit of Mount Vernon] here and getting her in shape," said Dan Russell, City Cruises' co-chief operating officer.
Spirit of Norfolk fire, June 7, 2022
City Cruises said events on the Mount Vernon are booked through the end of the year. Some of those booked events had been postponed after the fire aboard the Spirit of Norfolk.
Russell says his team brought supplies and repair work over from a vessel on the west coast to expedite the repairs on the Mount Vernon. He says the cruise ship has new carpets, ceiling tiles, bars, and glassware for people to come aboard and enjoy.
"She's around the same age as the Spirit of Norfolk. She is very similar in size, fit, finish, handling design, built in the same yard," said Russell. "We were very fortunate that we were able to identify and bring a vessel here that was most similar to the Spirit of Norfolk."
While he says the loss of the Spirit of Norfolk felt devastating, he's hoping this vessel can create the same experience.
Russell says all of the workers and crew members originally on the Spirit of Norfolk will be on this vessel as well, and will be thoroughly trained in safety measures as they have been in the past.
But will the Spirit of Mount Vernon ultimately become the new Spirit of Norfolk?
"There is a process to rename a vessel," Russell explained. "And should we decide to rename a vessel we want for a longer term here, then yes, we would have the intention of renaming her the Spirit of Norfolk."
The Spirit of Mount Vernon officially sets sail on Friday with the first round of guests.