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Langley crowd helps christen Royal Argosy

"Photo: Dan Floyd, one of the Argosy fleet's captains, shows off the pilot house of the new boat.Jim Larsen/staff photoWhat's it cost?Interested in cruising and dining on the Royal Argosy after it begins service in Seattle in early May? Here's a sampling of what it costs.Dinner cruises for adults are $74 Sunday through Wednesday and $79 Thursday through Saturday. Lunch cruises are $40 and $43 for the same days. Children and seniors pay reduced rates.Among the entrees are Dungeness crab cakes, wild chinook salmon and New York steak. The boat's galleys are operated by the same company that owns such popular Seattle eateries as Elliott's, Hiram's, Union Square Grill and Metropolitan Grill.For reservation information, call 206-623-1445 or visit the Web site at www.argosycruises.com.Nichols Brothers' Langley dock was full of company employees and well wishers Saturday as the luxurious dining vessel Royal Argosy was christened.Approximately 750 people showed up for the free lunch and most of them went on to enjoy a two-hour boat ride on the Argosy after the speeches and thanks were concluded.John Blackman, owner of Argosy Cruise lines with his wife Mary, said the Argosy is the result of 10 years of dreaming about the ideal dining vessel. We looked all over the U.S. and rode every dining boat, he said. There are wonderful vistas, but not necessarily wonderful food. The Blackmans finally found a cruising restaurant to their liking in Australia.The Argosy was designed with monster kitchens to make wonderful food possible, Blackman said. Consolidated Restaurants is a part owner of the vessel, and it operates some of the most popular restaurants in Seattle, where the Argosy will be berthed.Blackman said that while construction bids were solicited, he always wanted Nichols Brothers to build it. They're the best in the business, he told the crowd. There wasn't anybody else I wanted to build it.The cost was about $12 million, but to Blackman it was worth the expense. There's nothing like this in the U.S., he said.Mary Blackman designed the elegant interior decks with enough room to carry 800 passengers and serve dinner to up to 600 as they enjoy the view of Seattle and its Northwest setting. There are intimate tables for two, or large banquets can be accommodated.Matt Nichols, company president, lauded the construction crew headed by Hap Richards, project manager, and Richards commended each of the many crew superintendents. Richards noted that Archie Nichols was involved in the original planning with the Blackmans before plans were sent to Guido Perla & Associates for final design.There was also a strong political aspect to the day as the cruise was held as a fundraiser for Mike Shelton, Island County commissioner from Langley. As a politician, it doesn't get much better than this, Shelton told the crowed. Shelton, a Republican, as yet has no opposition in his run for a third term.The 180-foot-long Royal Argosy was christened by Marla Shelton. Its first dinner cruise is scheduled for May 5."

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