Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis – In a remarkable milestone for its burgeoning cruise tourism sector, the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis welcomed the illustrious Icon of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, on Tuesday, January 30, 2024, marking its inaugural stop in the Caribbean. A jewel in the esteemed Royal Caribbean Fleet, the Icon of the Seas brought with it a sense of grandeur and celebration to the Federation.
The distinguished presence of Governor General Her Excellency Dame Marcella Liburd, Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew, his Cabinet Minister, esteemed government officials, and notable dignitaries including His Excellency Michael Lin, Resident Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Mr. Ernest Amory, the Honorary Consul of Italy to St. Kitts and Nevis, added luster to the occasion. Following a captivating ceremony commemorating this historic moment, they were treated to an exclusive tour of the iconic cruise liner.
In his address, Prime Minister Drew expressed pride in Saint Kitts and Nevis being selected as the inaugural Caribbean destination for the Icon of the Seas’ maiden voyage from Miami on January 27. He remarked, “Our Federation has journeyed a long way – but we continue to soar and stay prominent across borders. And so, it is with great pleasure that I emphasize the resounding success St. Kitts has achieved as a sought-after cruise destination,” he added, “The arrival of Icon of The Seas thrusts St. Kitts into the limelight of international recognition, its name synonymous with unmatched beauty, adventure, and hospitality”.
Prime Minister Drew also commended the visionary leadership of former Minister of Tourism, Ricky Skerritt, and former Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, for their foresight in advancing the tourism industry. Reflecting on their strategic vision from nearly a decade ago, he noted their anticipation of constructing piers capable of berthing ships that were not even in production at the time, a testament to their remarkable foresight.
“I wish to reflect a bit on the past Minister of Tourism Mr. Ricky Skerrit and past Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas. I can remember clearly in about 2013 when a strategy was being put together for the new age of tourism, the idea was, to let us construct piers that would be able to berth these large ships that were not even being made at that time. That was vision! Today we see that vision unfolded”, he stated.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Marsha Henderson, emphasized the extraordinary nature of Saint Kitts and Nevis hosting the world’s largest cruise vessel, highlighting the juxtaposition between the destination’s modest size and the ship’s immense scale, symbolizing the enchantment and allure of the tourism industry.
“It is quite extraordinary to witness the largest cruise vessel in the world gracing the shores of our destination, the smallest in the Western hemisphere, Hon Marsha Henderson, Minister of Tourism, stated, “but it is precisely this contrast that exemplifies the magic and wonder of our industry, transcending boundaries and bringing our people together in the name of adventure and exploration”. In highlighting the longstanding partnership between Saint Kitts and Nevis and the Royal Caribbean, Minister Henderson stated, “This enduring partnership has been instrumental in shaping our tourism landscape propelling our beautiful destination unto the global stage as a premier destination”.
Acknowledging the enduring partnership between Saint Kitts and Nevis and Royal Caribbean, Minister Henderson underscored its pivotal role in elevating the destination to global prominence as a premier tourist hotspot affirming, “This enduring partnership has been instrumental in shaping our tourism landscape propelling our beautiful destination unto the global stage as a premier destination”.
Prime Minister Drew underscored the government’s commitment to sustainable tourism practices, aligning with Royal Caribbean Group’s dedication to “Seastanability.”
He emphasized, “Recognizing the immense potential of this industry, we have dedicated our efforts to creating an environment that effortlessly blends the preservation of our natural heritage with sustainable tourism practices. Let us not forget my Government’s agenda to ensure that St. Kitts & Nevis becomes a Sustainable Island State. This agenda correlates perfectly with Royal Caribbean Group’s commitment to sustainability, or as they call it ‘Seastanability’.”
Expressing gratitude to all contributors to this momentous achievement, Prime Minister Drew extended heartfelt appreciation to the visionary architects, Royal Caribbean Group’s team, and the dedicated professionals within the tourism industry and associated sectors.
According to Minister of Tourism Hon. Marsha Henderson, Saint Kitts and Nevis is poised for one of its most prosperous years, particularly in its thriving tourism sector, setting the stage for continued success and growth.