(SKNIS)—Three mega luxury cruise liners: Oasis of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, and Costa Favalosa—two docking at Port Zante and one at the Basseterre Deep Water Harbour, brought with them on March 23 close to 14,000 passengers to one of the Caribbean’s most rapid and favourite growing tourism destinations, St. Kitts and Nevis.
It was a carnival-like atmosphere in Basseterre and its environs with string-band music, taxi-drivers competing for tours, tourists soaking up one of our best natural resources—the sun, restaurants and stores populated with visitors and vendors plying their trade with their brightest smiles.
The three ships brought joy to a thriving tourism industry. Oasis of the Seas set sail from Fort Lauderdale in Florida, bringing 6,400 passengers for a 9 night Caribbean cruise. It was its inaugural visit to the federation; Navigator of the Seas, navigated the seas to Port Zante with 3,807 visitors for an 8 night Caribbean cruise embarking from Fort, Lauderdale; and Costa Favalosa, which docked at the Basseterre Deep Water Harbour, transported 3,780 passengers originating from Guadeloupe for an 8 day Caribbean cruise. That gives a sum total of 13, 987 visitors.
In welcoming the inaugural visit of MS Oasis of the Seas at an onboard Plaque Exchange Ceremony, Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Lindsay F.T. Grant, brought greetings from the Government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis to Captain Per Kristoffersen and his crew.
“We are delighted. We are exhilarated for your presence here this morning. You may not know what this means to us, but it is very important that you find St. Kitts as your berth of call,” said Minister Grant, to a small audience, including Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Carlene Henry-Morton, Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Diannille Taylor-Williams, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of St. Christopher Air and Sea Port Authority (SCASPA) Denzil “Don” James, Comptroller of Customs Georid Belle, Executive Chairman of Delisle Walwyn Group of Companies Mr. Clayton Perkins, Superintendent Cromwell Henry, Port Pilots, and representatives from SCASPA, the St. Kitts Tourism Authority and Maximum Security.
“Of course you know this is one of the great ships of the World and so when you are in port, we are happy to have you,” Minister Grant said, while highlighting that Oasis of the Seas will call on St. Kitts five times for the 2016 season. “We anticipate and expect the following season you will double that.”
The tourism minister also said that 17 ships have made inaugural visits for the 2016 season, while noting that one million visitors are expected this season. He proudly declared that “that shows that St. Kitts (Nevis) is really heading to be a marquee destination.” Also Minister Grant said that the Government will build a brand new pier to accommodate more mega ships.
Captain Kristoffersen said that it was a great pleasure to bring the Oasis of the Seas into St. Kitts despite some windy weather which the ship has the capacity to handle.
“We are looking forward to coming here more often with our guest going forward,” he said, while inviting his guests for a tour of the ship. He noted that St. Kitts has one of the best golf courses in the Caribbean and he hopes to play golf one day.
CEO of SCASPA, Mr. James, said that there was a committed team to ensure that pier facilities are maintained and in the best shape to accommodate ships like the Oasis of the Seas.
Chairman of Delisle Walwyn Group of Companies, Mr. Perkins, said that the inaugural visit of the Oasis of the Seas is “a significant event for the island, a crowning achievement for destination and a very proud moment.”
Oasis of the Seas is the second largest cruise ship in the world. It was built in Turku, Finland. The ship has seven (7) neighborhoods: Adventure Ocean, Central park, Pool and Sports, Vitality Spa, Boardwalk, Entertainment Place and Royal Promenade. The ship weighs 225,000 tons with 22 knots cruising speed. It is 1,187 feet long and 208 feet wide. It accommodates a crew of 2,196 from over 71 nationalities. It has a passenger capacity of 5,488 (double occupancy) and 6,680 (full occupancy).
Allure of the Seas is sister to Oasis of the Seas. Harmony of the Seas, which is presently under construction, and also a sister to Oasis of the Seas, will be the largest cruise liner in the world when finished.