A sign of hope could be seen yesterday from downtown Kingston’s Crawford Wharf. The Island Queen from 1000 Islands Cruises has returned to its usual spot after Captain Steels took advantage of the weather to drive it there.
According to Hugh Mackenzie, the director of 1000 Islands Cruises, the season was scheduled to begin on Easter Weekend, and the COVID-19 shelter in place orders have been a devastating blow to what otherwise would have been a record-breaking season for the company.
“We have no revenue and we would have been a month into the season,” said Mackenzie. “Normally, it would be a slow start, but at the end of February we were looking at a record season for us, the bookings were the highest they had ever been.”
Mackenzie said that they are hoping to open tours for the public by Wednesday, Jul. 1 2020, if the provincial and federal government allows it.
Once the ships are allowed to set sail, the company will be putting specific safety precautions in place for passengers, such as providing hand sanitizing stations, full disinfectant after every trip, additional spot cleaning for high traffic surfaces and emphasis on preventative hygiene practices.
In the meantime, Mackenzie has been in meetings with the Ministry of Transportation for permission to continue training their captains so they have enough hours driving the boat in preparation for when the season does begin.
“Our main issue right now even before the pandemic is the deficit of drivers we have,” he said. “We have to get our candidates out there so they can have enough hours when the season does start up again.”
Mackenzie is hoping that seeing their boats on the lake, even just for training purposes, will restore a sense of normalcy and hope to the city.
“When public health officials advise that everyday activity in Ontario can resume, we are confident that our vessels and trolleys will be a safe place to spend time with your family and we look forward to welcoming visitors,” said a statement on their website.
Passengers who booked a reservation before the shelter in place orders were enacted will get a full refund and advanced rebooking offers when tours do start up again.
Jemma Dooreleyers is a Kingstonian who is about to enter her fourth year at Ryerson School of Journalism. She has been a contributor for the Kingstonist in the past and is excited to be a full-time intern. She has written for a number of student publications such as the Ryersonian, Kaleidoscope, the Eyeopener, Her Campus and the White Wall Review. This year, she was the Arts Editor for Ryerson Folio, a general interest magazine. She is currently back in Kingston for the time being, social distancing with her mom, a dog, and two cats.