NORFOLK, Va. - With the devastating news that the Spirit of Norfolk is likely a total loss, News 3 wanted to look into the history of the charter boat and how it’s impacted people in our area for the last several decades.
“Really, the Spirit of Norfolk has been a pillar of tourism for the city and the community. It really set the tone for harbor cruising downtown,” said Sarah Hughes with VisitNorfolk.
The original boat started cruising in 1978. The current boat that caught fire Tuesday has been cruising since 1992.
“The Spirit of Norfolk has really been a part of everyone’s life journey - from kindergarten graduations, from marriages, to proposals, to anniversary parties, to prom," Hughes said. "If it’s a celebration in your life it’s a good chance that someone has celebrated that on the cruise ship."
The ship is still being dewatered by crews at Naval Station Norfolk, who are trying to keep the iconic boat afloat.
“It’s been a hard week for the city, and my heart goes out to everyone over at City Cruises. It's been a week, though, that we’ve really come together as a community,” said Hughes.
City Cruises released this statement Friday:
“Since we began cruising in Norfolk in 1978, City Cruises has been part of this local community. And since its inaugural sailing in 1992, the ‘Spirit of Norfolk’ has been a local landmark and beloved by many. After this week’s marine incident causing a fire to the vessel, we extend our thanks to our Crew, the Norfolk Navy Station, the Coast Guard and our local fire departments, as well as the Victory Rover, for working so quickly to ensure that all our guests and crew made it safely ashore during Tuesday’s incident.
We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support we have received from the community, who have shared their own personal experiences with ‘Spirit of Norfolk.’ From celebrating birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, class reunions, school events, among others, she was more than just a vessel, she was part of the fabric of this community.
We are looking at getting to sailing again as quickly as possible and will be moving another one of our vessels to Norfolk to accommodate our summer bookings. We look forward to welcoming guests back to create more memories aboard City Cruises Norfolk!”