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Former floating Trump casino contributing to local economy

June is proving to be particularly busy at Sarnia Harbour with the seasonal arrival of multiple yachts and the docking of a mothballed four-storey ship that once belonged to former president Donald Trump.

Dozens of curious onlookers spent Tuesday afternoon along Harbour Road watching as the Marcellin A. Desgagnes from Bridgetown, Barbados unloaded several luxury yachts.

All this week, massive cranes are lifting 11 large pleasure craft from the cargo ship into the St. Clair River, according to crews at the scene.

It’s an exercise that plays out at the beginning of each boating season in Sarnia, as well as at the end, as the yachts’ owners pay to transport their private boats from the Great Lakes, to the south for winter, and back again.

Immediately east of the Marcellin A. Desgagnes at the government dock is a disabled cruise ship that was towed into Sarnia Harbour on Sunday morning.

The Majestic Star II once belonged to former U.S. President Donald Trump’s casino and hotel business, which operated it as a floating casino in Gary Indiana.

“We’ve known it was coming here for quite some time and anticipate it will be in Sarnia for about six months of repair,” said Jared Lean, the City of Sarnia’s harbour operator.

“The idea is to get it in a useable state,” he said.

The Majestic Star II was a floating casino from 1996 to 2021, according to Wikipedia. Initially, it was owned by Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts and was anchored next to a Trump hotel.

In 2005, she was sold to Majestic Star Holdings but closed for business in April 2021, then was towed to the Bay Shipbuilding Company in Sturgeon Bay in Wisconsin.  

The Majestic Star II has a similar sized sister ship, Majestic Star I, that was also a former casino and is also due to arrive for repairs in Sarnia from Sturgeon Bay soon.

She will be “rafted,” which means she’ll be moored beside the Majestic Star II, Lean said.

“This is a nice little bonus for the city harbour,” he said. 

It’s routine to have as many as nine or 10 ships in for repair during the winter months. But ships in Sarnia Harbour for repairs in the summer are more unusual.

This year, the local harbour will have three ships berthed long-term. They include the two former casino ships, as well as an Algoma ship in the north slip.

“It’s bringing a nice increase in revenue,” said Lean. And it means substantial work for local trades and ship repair companies.

The harbour is also busy with many ships coming and going, dropping off cargo such as the yachts this week, and picking up loads such as grain from the nearby Cargo elevators.

Sarnia owns and operates four docks in its harbour including the new Cestar dock at the end of Exmouth Street. 

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