Ice-covered Lake Superior in February. Image provided by NOAA to the AP.Duluth will hold its traditional Blessing of the Port ceremony Thursday evening, even though heavy ice will delay the start of the shipping season this year.

Officials in the St. Lawrence Seaway System announced this week that they will delay the start of the 2014 navigation season for the Montreal/Lake Ontario section until at least March 31.

By contrast, last year the ice thawed so early the oceangoing "saltie" freighters were able to pull into Duluth before April for the first time in half a century.

Ice or no ice, The Twin Ports Ministry to Seafarers will host the annual Blessing of the Port at 5 p.m., followed by refreshments and a musical salute to all mariners. Vanta E. Coda II, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority will also give his forecast for the 2014 shipping season.