By Loshaun Dixon
Dozens of excited St. Kitts primary school children received early Christmas gifts from Santa Claus, who travelled aboard the Celebrity Eclipse and distributed gifts and spread joy to a number of young students on the morning of Dec. 7.
The event was sponsored by the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association, which provided gifts. At each port Santa Claus and his elves distribute gifts provided by the association at each port they visit.
In 2015, 40 destinations participated in the program, with more than 8,000 children receiving holiday gifts.
The students eagerly awaited Santa’s arrivalat Independence Square. He was slightly delayed because he had less than a dozen helpers to hand out gifts.
Some of the younger children, however, were hesitant to meet Santa Claus, while others sat in his lap as he gave them a toy from a wide-ranging collection. Santa regularly talked to the children and encouraged them to be on their best behaviour.
Celebrity Eclipse Youth Counsellor Joan Jontilano told the Observer about the event’s background.
“We are here from the Celebrity Eclipse,” Jontilano explained. “The captain and crew from our ship that docked in St. Kitts today brought gifts from our company to give to the kids from St. Kitts.”
Jontilano said ship personnel are happy to share toys with the children attending the event.
“We visit these ports every season,” Jontilano said. “We are always here every January and February. As a company we want to give back to the communities we visit. Especially for kids that maybe under-privileged or may not be able to have a toy.”
“It is really nice for us to give back because many of us are away from our families and have children at home.”
Raquel Brown Chief Executive Officer of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority said they work in conjunction with various cruise lines to ensure they visit St. Kitts and this activity is one benefits of that partnership.
“One of the great things we get to do with the cruise lines is to have Santa Claus give out gifts,” Brown explained.
Celebrity Eclipse Captain John Gratidge said he enjoyed sharing gifts with the children of St. Kitts.
“This is a very special time and we enjoy spending time with you at Christmas,” Captain Gratidge explained.