THOUSANDS of tourists were greeted by the sound of soca and calypso, along with the sight of moko jumbies and performers in Carnival costumes, as they made their way off the Royal Caribbean cruise line's Rhapsody of the Seas in Port of Spain on Tuesday.
It's the first time the cruise line has visited this country in 20 years.
It first docked at the Scarborough Port in Tobago on Monday and made its way to Trinidad on Tuesday around 8am.
Speaking at the launch of the 2022/2023 cruise season at the Cruise Ship Complex, Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell said he is "extremely grateful" to have Royal Caribbean return, adding that it had been away for "far too long."
The cruise season halted for the last two years, owing to the covid19 pandemic, and Mitchell said he welcomed cruise lines back and hoped not to be separated from them for too long again.
"We have prepared for you, and we have been preparing on offer some of our best hospitality, tours and that unique Trinbagonian experience."
He said both comfort and safety can be assured for the visitors.
Royal Caribbean will make a total of 17 calls to the country throughout the season.
Interim CEO of Tourism Trinidad Carla Cupid said it had been 42 months, 11 days and eight hours since the country last had a cruise season.
She stressed, "Yes, it has been that long since these majestic floating hotels have graced our shores, bringing the world to experience the best that Trinidad has to offer.
"We have been planning for months for this day."
She said the process of getting a cruise line to visit TT can be compared to a marathon rather than a sprint.
"What that means is that getting a cruise line to come to any destination requires strategic conversations with executives who are no doubt hearing the same conversations from representatives, just like us, from other islands, or even other countries, because the space within which we compete has become so much smaller."
She said visitors can look forward to an authentic, engaging and culturally rich experience.
"Trinidad has what it takes right here to deliver that."
She teased that the cruise line may also return for the 2023/2024 season and said she is excited to continue negotiations.
Port Authority chairman Lyle Alexander said TT is one of the "most diverse cosmopolitan destinations they will ever visit," and that the welcome ceremony was just a "small slice of the paradise that is our beautiful country.
"I give you my word, it will be worth every minute.
"We are happy that you have chosen us, land of the calypso and the steelband."
Several tourists told Newsday they looked forward to activities like visiting beaches, the zoo, going shopping and trying new foods, among other things.
Eileen and David Mangan, who are from England, told Newsday it was their first-ever visit to TT and they were excited.
"From first impressions, I prefer Trinidad to Tobago," Eileen said.
"I agree with that," David chimed in.
They went shopping at local clothing store Sisters United.
A visitor from Barbados who preferred not to be named said she was looking forward to going shopping with a local friend who was waiting for her in Port of Spain.
Tour guides and taxi drivers told Newsday they were happy for the opportunity to work with so many people again after two years.