Cruise ships to return to Redwood City 

Locals will soon be able to board a 250-foot cruise ship from the Port of Redwood City, sip wine on-deck while watching the wetlands go by and disembark in wine country for days of shopping and exploring.

Cruise West, which offered three- and four-day treks from the port until 2005, is returning with eight tours between Sept. 17 and Oct. 19, Port of Redwood City Director Michael Giari said. Although the service doesn’t bring major revenues to the Port, it does enhance its visibility as a spot for tourism and waterfront activity, Giari said.

The cruise line, which also runs tours out of San Francisco’s Pier 40, specializes in smaller cruises of 80 to 120 passengers. The smaller vessels, like the Spirit of Yorkshire, can get into smaller channels in places such as the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the Pacific Northwest and inlets in Alaska and British Columbia, as well as the Petaluma River and the Sacramento Delta, Cruise West spokesman Andrew Wilson said.

"Our tagline is ‘Up-close, Personal and Casual,’" Wilson said.

Although many Americans may associate the Peninsula with Silicon Valley, a cruise like this one adds to San Mateo County’s multitude of tourist options, said Ann LeClair, head of the San Mateo County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"We have an endless supply of things to do," LeClair said, naming everything from coastal farm visits to unique shopping districts in Burlingame and Half Moon Bay. "The key is getting someone to discover us in the first place."

To that end, the bureau has hired staffers to regularly court travel writers — they even offer writers a county tour in August.

Cruise West’s wine country offerings may also pique tourist interest. This fall, passengers can pick either a three-night, $1,299 cruise, or four nights at $1,949, Wilson said, in time for the fall wine harvest.

Those who get hooked on nautical adventure will find no dearth of local alternatives, such as whale-watching on the coast or boat tours from Coyote Point or Oyster Point Marina, LeClair said.

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