By Loshaun Dixon
Monday marked a historic day for tourism in St. Kitts as the island welcomed the one-millionth passenger of the 2017-2018 cruise season, who came aboard the Freedom Of The Seas cruise ship with a capacity of more than 4,000 passengers.
The occasion was marked with a grand celebration by tourism officials who handed out gifts including t-shirts, noting the achievement and organised steel pan music to welcome passengers as they disembarked the cruise ship.
A couple, Malory Kohn and Jared Lehman were identified by tourism officials as the one-millionth passenger. They received gift baskets and enjoyed their time on the island at the expense of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority.
Minister of Tourism Honourable Lindsay Grant, noted that the occasion was “big” for his ministry as it means the island has marquee status from The Florida-Carribean Cruise Association (FCCA).
“It now puts us in the position of being a marquee port of the 35 FCCA jurisdictions of the and that’s fantastic news for us,” Hon. Grant said. We have done it ahead of much larger destinations and I think it is a testament to the hard work of the St. Kitts and Nevis public, taxi drivers, vendors, craftsmen, ministry and the Tourism Authority.
He added that it was a proud moment for the entire tourism sector and displays the quality the Federation can offer. “We’ve been waiting for this moment for a very long time and it shows the capacity of St. Kitts and Nevis to produce at the highest level,” Hon. Grant said.
Grant said that despite the one-millionth passenger being a historic feat it is important that customer service in the federation is also marquee.
“Bringing a million passengers is not really what we want in terms of just saying we have a million passengers,” Grant explained. “We want to make sure that when the visitors come they have an experience like no other. We are happy to be here today it is a tremendous feat for St. Kitts and Nevis. Federico Gonzalez from Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, and for this year alone we have received 102 ships.”
He added that cruise visits percentages have gone up some 35 percent for this year alone. “So that’s really good news. As you can realize, we’re having the second cruise pier already in progress that again is a good indicator, because it means that St. Kitts can hold at any given time, three of the largest ships in the world.”
Grant added that they have met with agents such as Royal Caribbean and others as they look to promote the federation on the international market.
“Every year we venture and put our booths out and we get in front of the cruise lines, all of them, to tell them what we are going to be doing over the next year… The good thing is that when we go we go as a team.”
By Loshaun Dixon