Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 19, 2009 (SKNIS): Persons from around the world continue to converge on St. Kitts, to celebrate with the cruise ship Freewinds as it marks its 20th Anniversary visit to the Federation.
The ship has been home porting at Port Zante in Basseterre over the past few days, preparing to kick off its 21st year of Caribbean cruises. Port Captain Ludwig Alpers told SKNIS why St. Kitts was chosen as a venue for this event.
“We have very good relations here,” he stated, with a smile on his face. “I’ve known the Minister [of State] for Tourism for 20 years. Our agent Delisle Walwyn is a very successful agent and they can handle our needs.”
Alpers referred to the schedule of airlift from the United States and United Kingdom and described them as positives. “It’s an up and coming cruise destination. You’re growing, growing each year, to the point that I can’t even get in here anymore,” he stated, reflecting on the first visit of the Freewinds two decades ago. “It’s kind of odd to think that it is summer time and we are going to have the Carnival [cruise ship] Destiny next to us. That’s very positive for St. Kitts.”
Captain Alpers stressed that he was pleased that St. Kitts has been able to keep its unique charm and warmth, which greatly compliments the growth of the tourism sector. He noted that VIPs from around the world, including top international artistes, will be part of the free celebration which takes place tomorrow.
“We want to invite everyone down to Port Zante on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 pm,” he said, explaining that family-oriented activities including cultural performances, bouncing castles and domino competitions will take place, along with a performance from the popular Small Axe Band. “That’s what makes St. Kitts great and we want to feature that … and [have] the people come down and enjoy the send off.”
The captain said the experience will conclude with a traditional ship departure where persons assemble on the pier and bid the passengers “bon voyage” amid music, falling confetti and the blast of the ship’s horn.
Minister of State for Tourism, Honourable Richard Skerritt said Government has been working very hard to enhance the infrastructure to ensure the continued growth of the tourism sector, and the Federation as a whole. A major part of this strategy includes increasing airlift into the country.
“None of this could have happened without the airlift coming in. The daily flights from Miami and other destinations. They all go hand in hand,” he explained. “To be able to move 300 hundred people all within a day or two to get on the ship requires the necessary airlift.”
“The Freewinds is celebrating its anniversary cruise and we are celebrating with them, and at the same time using it as an opportunity to celebrate the fact that tourism is working, cruise shipping is working and we are confident that it will continue to work with this Government in charge,”
Many local businesses particularly smaller enterprises such as taxi operators and entertainers have benefited by providing services for the homeport of the Freewinds cruise ship in St. Kitts.