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U.K. ship to cruise into Port City

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The British are coming! The British are coming!

This time they won?t be waging war, but learning about it.

Great Britain-based Saga Cruise Line?s Ruby, carrying 400 to 500 senior citizens, will dock at the State Port in Wilmington May 24 as part of a 34-night cruise that includes several stops on the East Coast.

While here, passengers will embark on one of five tours of the Wilmington area. Tour themes, chosen by the cruise line, include the Civil War, World War II, gardens, Duplin County country and the Cape Fear River.

Janet K. Seapker, owner of Tours By Degrees, a Wilmington tour operator, is coordinating the onshore excursions through a contract with Saga, which bills itself as the United Kingdom?s largest independent cruise line.

I just love for people to be able to take in the really good stuff that Wilmington and this region has to offer,? Seapker said. ?And you don?t have to worry about where to park them.?

The Civil War tour includes stops at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site and the Bellamy Mansion Museum. The World War II tour includes the Battleship North Carolina and the Hannah Block Historic USO. The garden tour stops at Orton Plantation and Airlie Gardens. The Duplin County tour visits the Buckner Hill House, Liberty Hall and the Duplin Winery. The Henrietta III travels down the Cape Fear River past downtown Wilmington.

The cruise which leaves Southampton, England, May 7 ? will also stop in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Savannah and Charleston, among other cities.

Large cruise ships call the Port of Wilmington from time to time.

On May 2, 2004, the Radisson Seven Seas Navigator, a 560-foot cruise ship with about 500 passengers and 300 crew docked at the State Port. Heavy rains that day, however, caused many potential sightseers to stay aboard.

As recently as 2001, a cruise line offered two trips a year from the State Port in Wilmington to Bermuda, a port spokeswoman said.

Source: Patrick Gannon, Star News Online

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