Lil’ Diamond a big deal on the canal
Gems Along the Mohawk and Erie Canal Cruises unveiled their newest cruise boat, which dwarfs their last boat at nearly twice the size. Our Andrew Sorensen tells us why they think the new Canal Cruises will bring in a fresh wave of tourism along the Erie Canal.
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HERKIMER COUNTY, N.Y. -- When Dr. Renee Shevat started Gems Along the Mohawk ten years ago, she thought educational canal cruises would be a good addition to her tourism-based business. As it turns out, her idea was a diamond in the rough.
“Brought him to the waters, with a little 36 passenger and we thought we were going to be holding our own for infinity,” Shevat said.
Business exploded. In two years, they were on to the Lil' Diamond II.
“We brought in a 60 seater, which helped cater to the motor coaches and now we've realized again it was too small,” said Shevat.
All aboard the Lil' Diamond III. This boat means a great deal to owner and captain Jerry Gertz.
“The fulfillment of my wife's wish, actually almost her dying wish and the fulfillment of what I wanted to accomplish here,” Gertz said.
Gertz spent 38 years with his wife trying to get people to enjoy the sites by water in Florida and now in Central New York.
“She felt that what we needed was a boat that was more versatile, things that could do parties,” Gertz said.
Gertz has done a fine job fulfilling that wish, helping to design a state-of-the-art boat that can seat 120 people, enough for two motor coaches.
“Everybody gets married, everybody has birthdays, everybody has anniversaries, this is a great value,” Gertz said.
And that's big for Gems' tourism business.
“Motor coaches usually are doing other things in the area so when we're packaging motor coach programs, we're connecting to other venues,” Shevat said.
Now as they say bon voyage to Lil' Diamond II, they're keeping an eye on the horizon.
Shevat said, “There's a lot more coming down the pike for Gems along the Mohawk as we go into our next 10 years.”
Ten years is far off from a diamond anniversary, but because the Lil' Diamond III means so much to Gertz and the area, Shevat couldn't have given a more appropriate gift for the occasion than a big gem.