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The Times
  • Erie Canal Cruises welcomes new two-deck cruise boat

  • It was the dream of his late wife Kim to see a two-deck vessel added to the Erie Canal Cruises fleet.

    “I think she was right,” said Capt. Jerry Gertz during a news conference onboard the Lil’ Diamond III, the first two-deck vessel for the cruise line. The boat will be used for private parties and sightseeing.

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  • It was the dream of his late wife Kim to see a two-deck vessel added to the Erie Canal Cruises fleet.
    “I think she was right,” said Capt. Jerry Gertz during a news conference onboard the Lil’ Diamond III, the first two-deck vessel for the cruise line. The boat will be used for private parties and sightseeing.
    Gertz, president of Erie Canal Cruises, said the boat will likely be certified by the U.S. Coast Guard to hold 130 passengers, but will only carry 110 passengers on its voyages. It is currently docked outside of Gems Along the Mohawk in the village of Herkimer, on the Erie Canal and Mohawk River, as the interior renovations are completed, including carpets, tables, chairs and other amenities.
    The vessel is a catamaran and was constructed with Gertz’s specifications by Scarano Boat Builders, in Albany. According to a news release, the vessel has a lightship weight of 52,000 pounds, has 2,300 square feet and an overall length of 70 feet, with the length on deck at 65 feet. It also has twin 250 horsepower Honda four strokes, an unusual arrangement for a passenger vessel of its size.
    Erie Canal Cruises is one of the original businesses to open with Gems Along the Mohawk 10 years ago, along with the Waterfront Grille. Gertz said he had the idea for the cruise business because there was not one already established on this stretch of the canal.
    “How could anyone not have a boat here,” he said during Tuesday’s news conference. “A lot of people thought we would fail ... Now it’s proven to be a lucrative business for us.”
    Also in the Erie Canal Cruises fleet is the 36-passenger Lil’ Diamond I and the 64-passenger Lil Diamond II. He said his business brings in about 80 buses a year, with about 50 passengers on each bus. Gertz said a bus that stays overnight in Herkimer County brings in approximately $12,000 to the local economy. He said he hopes by next year Erie Canal Cruises will have over 100 buses visiting the cruise line, and eventually have up to 300 buses visiting a year.
    “[Gertz] is a member of our Chamber and his business is a key to economic development here because it brings in tourism,” said Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director John Scarano on Tuesday.
    “This vessel will do nothing but bring in more people in to the county and grow,” he added.
    Lil’ Diamond III’s inaugural voyage was on Aug. 11 and it arrived in Herkimer on Aug. 12. A formal kick-off celebration will take place on Saturday, Sept. 1, with the 17-piece ensemble of Steve Falvo’s Easy Money Big Band scheduled to perform.
    “It is with warmth, pride and excitement that we welcome Lil’ Diamond III as a special and vital part of our multi-faceted complex,” said Renee Scialdo Shevat, developer and owner of Gems Along the Mohawk, in a news release.
    Page 2 of 2 - “The New York State Canal System contributes nearly $380 million annually through tourism through this historic corridor, and a large part of that significant impact can be attributed to businesses like Gems Along the Mohawk and Erie Canal Cruises,” said Brian U. Stratton, director of the state Canal Corporation in a news release.
    Gems Along the Mohawk is open all year, seven days per week with specialty shopping, waterfront dining at the Waterfront Grille and tourism information.
    The lock-through cruises operate May through October. For information on lock-through cruises and private charters, contact 717-0350 or go to www.eriecanalcruises.com.

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