The new Vista Fleet sightseeing experienceJustin and Sarah Steinbach met with representatives of Visit Duluth last week after just recently purchasing the Vista Fleet harbor sightseeing tour company. You couldn’t help being happy for the energetic couple taking over the reins of one of Duluth’s iconic attractions.
By: Terry Mattson, Duluth Budgeteer News
Justin and Sarah Steinbach met with representatives of Visit Duluth last week after just recently purchasing the Vista Fleet harbor sightseeing tour company. You couldn’t help being happy for the energetic couple taking over the reins of one of Duluth’s iconic attractions.
“Sarah and I believe in building strong relationships in the Duluth community to help build a strong network for success,” Justin said. The Steinbachs’ new company, Vista Cruises Inc., took over owning and operating all business functions of the Vista Fleet Dec. 29.
The Vista Fleet has been a premier attraction in the Duluth harbor for 53 years. While much has changed since the original Flamingo Excursions, the fascination of Lake Superior and the opportunity to almost reach out and touch ocean-going freighters and Great Lakes vessels remains.
When Duluth tourism pioneers Manley (“Monnie”) and brother Erwin Goldfine, in partnership with Warren Silver, purchased the operation in 1979, I don’t think even they realized what Duluth tourism could become. Monnie’s passion for boating and Lake Superior was evidenced in his love of the Vista Fleet. The contributions they made to the community were epic.
The Steinbach purchase represents the beginning of a new era. “We want to get back to the grassroots of what made the Vista Fleet great,” Justin said.
Focusing on increasing and enhancing the number of sightseeing cruises along with enriching the customer experience is how the Steinbachs plan to grow operations. At this stage the Steinbach strategy is to continue with the Vista Fleet’s two boats because “it’s a model that works in Duluth.” The Vista Fleet’s third boat was sold in 2010.
The wonders of Lake Superior and cruising next to a 1,000-foot lake freighter makes memories for many of Duluth’s 3.5 million visitors each year. Seeing lighthouses, activities of the port and the many moods of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee help make a Duluth getaway complete.
Sarah and Justin are very familiar with the Duluth experience. Sarah has been the Vista Fleet’s sales and assistant general manager for the last six years. Justin has been general manager of the Edgewater Resort & Waterpark for the past five-and-a-half years. Sarah, a native of Prior Lake, attended the University of Minnesota Duluth, while Justin is a Duluth native who worked his way up through ZMC Hotels Inc.
Sarah and Justin will continue operating the 300-passenger capacity Vista Star and 70-passenger capacity Vista Queen from Canal Park, behind the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Visit Duluth shares a seasonal waterfront visitor center with the Vista Fleet.
Justin hopes to someday captain the cruises, as both he and Sarah serve multiple roles in what is a family-operated business. With their unique experience in the tourism and attraction industry in Duluth, as well as their commitment to the customer experience and track record as efficient operators, Justin and Sarah’s company is the perfect fit to re-energize the Vista Fleet business, according to a company news release.
“My wife and I are passionate about the Duluth community as well as the great Lake Superior,” Justin said. “We are excited to continue the legacy of the Goldfine family and work with the rest of the tourism community at building strong relationships that will ultimately make Duluth’s tourism industry stronger for years to come. We would love the opportunity to show the local Duluthians, as well as tourists, the great new Vista Fleet experience. We are looking forward to making many positive things and look forward to the support of the Duluth-Superior communities.”
Congratulations, Sarah and Justin. On behalf of Duluth’s entire tourism and hospitality community, we look forward to working with you.
Terry Mattson is the president and CEO of Visit Duluth, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, and is responsible for leading the official destination marketing efforts. Contact Mattson by telephone at 722-4011 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.