ALMOST 5,000 people – passengers and crew – docked in Port of Spain on Thursday, marking the opening of the 2019/2020 cruise season. The Caribbean Princess cruise liner, which is owned by Princess Cruises, docked just off the Cruise Ship Complex, Dock Road, early in the morning to the sounds of a live parang band.
Passengers were also welcomed by towering moko jumbies and other live performances, giving the appreciative visitors a taste of TT culture.
There are 26 other calls expected to arrive this season, carrying with them an estimated 69,000 tourists, accounting for about a 17 per cent increase from 2018. Minister of Tourism Randall Mitchell, Port of Spain mayor Joel Martinez and several other stakeholders in the industry were also on site to welcome the visitors.
Mitchell, addressing the media, said the ministry's strategic plan for the cruise sector is to increase the figure of arrivals via cruise to 100,000, by marketing TT as a cruise destination through collaborations with cruise liners.
"We are recognised for our unique ethnic and cultural mix, together with the warmth and generosity of our citizens, which contribute to all other aspects of our tourism product offerings," he said, adding that the tourism sector does more to increase the economic value, creating opportunities for tour operators, guides and craft vendors.
Inside the Cruise Ship Complex are a number of shops, packed with TT branded memorabilia and keepsakes.
Mitchell said the country had much to offer visitors, namely Caroni Bird Sanctuary and the Asa Wright Nature Centre.
"A tour around the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, which is one of the largest roundabouts in the world, and is surrounded by the Magnificent Seven historic buildings, can be one of our most exciting shore excursions for cruise visitors,"said Mitchell.
Chairman of Tourism Trinidad Ltd and former minister of national security Howard Chin Lee also welcomed the visitors, saying they have much to look forward to.
"(TT) is blessed with great attractions, excellent festivals, mouth-watering cuisine and warm, welcoming people," which he said, "were all the ingredients to become one of the Caribbean’s leading tourism destinations."