The Ride the Ducks craft went back to ferrying tourists after the Sept. 24 tragedy in which five died. Back were the corny jokes and loud music.
Ride the Ducks got back to business Friday, nearly four months after a crash on the Aurora Bridge that killed five and injured dozens.
At 11 in the morning, with a gaggle of TV news cameras to publicize it all, the amphibious vehicles went back to trucking tourists at about $29 a pop.
The company no longer will cross the Aurora Bridge. It has listed a number of added safety measures, including having both a driver and a tour guide on board; a federal report said a defective front axle was at fault when a duck vehicle suddenly veered into oncoming traffic and struck a bus.
The company touts its tourism figures: 300,000 passengers a year on its 20 Ducks that give employment to 130.
To be sure, the Ducks are an acquired taste.
There is not much leg room, and they are cold on a windy, drizzly winter day. Tunes like “Happy” boom on the theory that loud music equals a good time.
And you have to acquire a taste for 90 minutes of jokes from someone like tour guide Capt. Bjorn Toorun:
“That big, pointy thing. It’s the Space Needle, carved out of a single cedar!”
“That’s Elliott Bay … the original eBay!”
“Any sushi lovers in town? There’s the freshest sushi in town. The Seattle Aquarium!”
The highlight of the tour, of course, isn’t the jokes or music, but when the craft glides into Lake Union near Gas Works Park.
The passengers ooh and ahh as the craft cruises by houseboats, including the “Sleepless in Seattle” houseboat, and makes a circle in the middle of the lake.
Then it’s back to the Ducks home base across the street from the Space Needle.
Here and there, a few locals wave at the craft.
“Hey, they waved their fingers, almost all of them,” says Toorun, having seen his share of the one-fingered salutes from his fellow Seattleites.