Prevue January-February 2011 - (Page 62)

norfolk maritime meetings [on locAtion] kAtie morell A s our group floats down Norfolk’s Elizabeth River aboard the 135-ft American Rover sailboat, we’re all enjoying a delicious breakfast of Belgian waffles, fresh fruit and mimosas in the clear crisp air while city of Norfolk. Presently there are plans to open up the deck for large private events by summer once the ship is retrofitted with the appropriate facilities. Presently, the “wardroom” (officer dining area) is open below deck for 80-pax rentals. The best part of the tour are the guides who years ago worked the guns and manned the winches during active duty. We could have spent all day talking with our guide John Cummisk, who regaled us with stories about his life at sea. The warship is berthed at Nauticus, the most fabled maritime museum on the east coast welcoming guests with a 2,000-gallon touch tank filled with Chesapeake Bay marine life. In July, the museum opened “Guns, Sweat & Gears: Anatomy of a Battleship”—an exhibit featuring artifacts from the Wisconsin such as a 2,400-pound computer, a 48-star flag and an optical range finder. The museum also offers exhibits detailing the country’s naval history and an intriguing, interactive “multimedia battleship design simulation center” where groups can re-enact shipboard procedures. Corporate dinners and receptions are often booked at Nauticus where groups up to 2,000 can rent out the entire facility. The museum’s main exhibit area is available for 800; the changing exhibits gallery, with a deck overlooking Elizabeth River, hosts 400; the Living Sea Landing aquarium section caters up to 400; and the A/V-equipped Living Sea Theater seats 350. Right next to that, the 80,000-sf Half Moone Cruise & Celebration Center opened in 2007 as a spiffy cruise terminal with a Grand Rotunda overlooking the water and the sun casts gentle diamonds of light on the calm water. The vessel features an inviting lower deck with plenty of room for buffet tables while the upper deck seats 120 pax. Norfolk is incredibly proud of its maritime history, and with good reason. Founded 400 years ago, the city weathered several attacks from sea in its early days, and today, the city is a meetings hot spot with weathered brick streets, a US Naval base, a wealth of waterborne group experiences and high-end seafood restaurants that speak to that history. “Most people don’t realize that Norfolk is almost completely surrounded by water,” says Donna Allen, VP of Sales/Marketing for Norfolk CVB, citing the Elizabeth River, James River and Chesapeake Bay. “Our location makes us the ideal spot for maritime activities.” GUNS, SWEAT + GEARS Seeing action from WWII through Operation Desert Storm, the 880-ft USS Wisconsin battleship is moored in the heart of downtown within walking distance to a nice variety of hotels, restaurants and shops. Any private group touring this beast will immediately feel dwarfed by the 880’ x 36’ deck with massive protruding cannons and coiled ropes the size of tree trunks. Last April, the ship was decommissioned and given to the 62 | prevue magazine

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue January-February 2011

RCCL's Allure of the Seas
Marriott Los Angeles Group
Brazil's Big Reboot
Seattle, Cleveland, Boston
Grand Hyatt Atlanta
Riu Panama Plaza
Casa de Campo, Dominican Rep
Punta Cana + Leadership Summit
Gaylord Opryland, Nashville
Florida Means Business
Designer Districts
Hawaii: The Big Island

Prevue January-February 2011