Business

Victoria Clipper to bring business to Coupeville

The Victoria Clipper III will spend its weekends next spring transporting whale watchers to Saratoga Passage to view the annual migration of the gray whales. The boat is scheduled to stop for two hours in Coupeville for lunch.  - Photo courtesy of Clipper Vacations
The Victoria Clipper III will spend its weekends next spring transporting whale watchers to Saratoga Passage to view the annual migration of the gray whales. The boat is scheduled to stop for two hours in Coupeville for lunch.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Clipper Vacations

Hundreds of tourists viewing gray whales next spring will also make a stop in Coupeville, boosting business during the slow spring.

The Seattle-based Victoria Clipper, which holds nearly 200 people, will make trips Saturdays and Sundays beginning in mid-March and continuing until mid-May.

“They’ve decided to extend the number of visits they’ll make next year,” said Lynda Eccles, executive director of the Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce. “There’s a lot more people coming into Coupeville.”

During the trip, the Victoria Clipper will make a two-hour stop at the Coupeville Wharf for people to stretch their legs, shop, and enjoy lunch in nearby restaurants.

“When they arrive in Coupeville, everybody knows it,” said Janis Smith, vice president for sales and marketing for Clipper Vacations.

Boating companies for the past several years have been docking at the Coupeville Wharf during the gray whale season. The Anacortes-based Mystic Sea sailed out of the wharf in previous years. The Mystic Sea has since moved to La Conner.

A number of gray whales stop in Saratoga Passage every spring as part of their migration from California to Alaska.

Smith said all trips to Saratoga Passage sold out last season and next year’s more numerous voyages should be even more successful because there is more time to market the program. In addition to the weekend trips, the Victoria Clipper will make three educational trips for school-aged students.

There were several hiccups that had to be resolved last year to make sure passengers’ visit to Coupeville was a success.

Because the Clipper’s arrival meant nearly 200 people coming into town at the same time for a 90-minute visit, the small restaurants downtown were sometimes overwhelmed.

To better accommodate all involved, the Clipper’s visits will be extended to two hours next year, which will make it easier on passengers and businesses alike.

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