Shamfa Cudjoe, Minister of Tourism, officially launched Trinidad and Tobago’s 2017/2018 Cruise Ship Season in fine style at the Port of Spain Cruise Ship Complex yesterday.
She told guests and stakeholders: “For the period January to June 2017, Caribbean cruise arrivals stood at 15.3 million, a four percent increase on the corresponding period of 2016. This represented the largest number of cruise passengers in the region at this time of year.”
The Minister added that for the 2017-2018 cruise season, TT was originally scheduled to receive 47 calls - 23 calls with a passenger count of 60,958 persons in Trinidad, and 24 calls in Tobago with a passenger count of 75,451 persons.
However she said in the aftermath of the recent hurricanes in the region, coupled with the diligent work of local stakeholders, Trinidad and Tobago is expected to receive an additional 24 calls for the 2017/2018 cruise season.
Twenty-three in Tobago from Seabourne Cruise Lines, Carnival UK, TUI Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruises and Thomson Cruises, and one additional call to Trinidad from the Fred Olsen Cruises.
The Ministry of Tourism organised a special cultural welcome for the captain and passengers from the Caribbean Princess cruise ship, as it was the first liner to dock in Port of Spain for the season.
As visitors disembarked from the ship they were greeted in extempo by entertainer Black Sage (Phillip Murray), then caught a glimpse of masqueraders in pretty mas costumes, as well as saw limbo dancing by the Malick Folk Performers, and heard from the CAL Invaders Steelband, while the moko jumbies were also present.
Vistors also got to taste doubles, while members of the Ministry’s tourism community groups handed out samples of their products.
Among the guests at the function were Joel Martinez, Mayor of Port of Spain, Janelle Chow, chair of the Tourism Trinidad Limited (TTL), Adrian Beharry, deputy chair, TTL, Charles Carvalho Director of Carvalho Shipping Services and Vidiah Ramkhelawan, permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism.
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Captain of the Caribbean Princess of Princess Cruises, Marco Fortezze, told Newsday, he has been a captain for the past 15 years and yesterday’s welcome was the best he ever had in all those years.
He said there are 60 different nationalities on board the 18-storey ship with 3,129 passengers and 1,145 crew members.
Guests were then taken on a small tour aboard the liner starting at the seventh floor that houses the main piazza that is open 24 hours and a theatre that seats 800.
Peter Hollingson, Princess Cruises Hotel General Manager, United Kingdom told the touring party the vessel also has its own version of NBC’s talent show The Voice, complete with four production crews, as well as host a 70s party and zumba classes.
Up on the 15th floor, there was the restaurant deck and the Sanctuary spa that was converted from a basketball court 10 years ago.
The floor just below was the bridge where the captain guides the ship. There, Minister Cudjoe, Chow and Martinez were all given mementos of the ship by the captain.