The Spirit of Mount Vernon takes on the cruise schedule for the Spirit of Norfolk, badly damaged in a fire in June. Handout photo.

Spirit of Norfolk Replaced with New Boat after Catastrophic Fire

Two months after a fire broke out on the Spirit of Norfolk dinner cruise boat with 89 children on board, a new replacement vessel is officially operating in Norfolk.

The Spirit of Mount Vernon had its inaugural sail Friday, Aug. 12. Operations had been paused since June 7, when fire rendered the Spirit of Norfolk inoperable. The fire took four days to completely extinguish. Thanks to good evacuation procedures and quick emergency response, no one aboard was injured in the fire, as Bay Bulletin reported.

Spirit of Norfolk, which was a longtime fixture on the Hampton Roads waterfront, was towed to Colonna’s Shipyard where it remains.

The Spirit of Norfolk being towed to Colonna’s Shipyard in the days after a destructive fire on board. Photo: USCG Petty Officer 1st Class Dustin Williams U.S. Coast Guard District 5

Over the past ten years alone, the Spirit of Norfolk welcomed nearly 4 million total guests, hosted over 3,000 reunions, toasted over 2,500 weddings, celebrated more than 1,500 proms, and served 400,000+ students.

City Cruises Norfolk says the outpouring from the community was huge. Over the past 10 years, the Spirit of Norfolk had nearly 4 million cruise passengers and hosted more than 3,000 reunions, 2,500 wedding, 1,500 proms and served 400,000 students from school groups.

“Over these past two months, we’ve heard countless personal accounts of experiences aboard the Spirit of Norfolk from locals and tourists alike, all reiterating the fact that she was not just a local landmark, but a beloved destination. After the overwhelming amount of support from loyal guests, local businesses, industry partners, and the community at large, we are thrilled to get back on the water with the Spirit of Mount Vernon and The Freedom Elite as we continue to create amazing experiences,” says Jolene Price-Thompson, general manager of City Cruises Norfolk.

The Spirit of Mount Vernon comes from the City Cruises Washington D.C. fleet of vessels and will take summer bookings and beyond for cruises with views of the Elizabeth River including the world’s largest navy base, Norfolk Naval Base. You can book a cruise on the new-to-Norfolk vessel as well as the fleet’s other boat, the Freedom Elite, here.

What will become of the old Spirit of Norfolk? That remains to be seen, with a City Experiences spokesperson telling Bay Bulletin in a statement, “The Spirit of Norfolk will always hold a personal connection in the hearts of the Norfolk community as her legacy lives on. We look forward to continuing to once again creating memorable experiences alongside our remarkable Crew as we collectively build back the traditions our guests have come to love with their family and friends.”

-Meg Walburn Viviano