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M.S. Mount Washington ready for its first 2014 cruise

CENTER HARBOR — The captain and crew of the M.S. Mount Washington have announced that the ship has had its annual inspection and is ready — finally — to kick off its 2014 cruising season to five ports on Lake Winnipesaukee.

In a normal year, the last Monday of April would bring the annual ‘Shakedown Cruise’ for the 230-foot boat. Aside from being the first cruise of the year, the ‘Shakedown Cruise’ traditionally serves as the annual inspection of the vessel by the Department of Safety, Marine and Fire Divisions.

But this year, there will be no ‘Shakedown Cruise,’ said Capt. Jim Morash, general manager of Mount Washington Cruises, because ice-out occurred later in the season and crews haven’t had time to prepare for the inspection and cruise, which normally would have taken place on Monday.

Each year in the weeks leading up to the ‘Shakedown Cruise,’ crews make improvements to the ship, which is one of two vessels that have carried the Mount Washington name on the lake since 1872. Safety equipment on board is checked and sections of the ship are painted and re-carpeted each year, Morash said.

“Safety is the number one priority with our vessels and our relationship with the Marine and Fire Safety Divisions is very important to us,” said Fleet Captain Leo O’Connell.

This has been an abnormally cold spring, which slowed preparation efforts down.

“It’s been really cold outside, too cold to prepare as we normally would for the ‘Shakedown Cruise,’” Morash said on Monday. “We ran out of good weather this year. Maybe just one year off, I’m sure we’ll have it again next year.”

Knowing the ‘Shakedown Cruise’ was in jeopardy, the inspections were completed in the past few days and weeks, and the ship will be ready for its first cruise on Monday, May 5, Morash said.

That cruise will be a charter trip for the Governor’s Conference on Tourism. The New Hampshire Travel Council will be holding its annual two-day conference at Church Landing at Mill Falls in Meredith on May 5-6, and attendees will be treated to a luncheon cruise aboard the Mount Washington on Monday.

The Mount Washington will continue its longstanding tradition, the Mother’s Day Brunch Cruise, on Sunday, May 11, marking the first cruise available this year to the public.

“We’re looking forward to getting back out on the big lake and for a successful cruising season,” Morash said.