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Caribbean-On-Line » Caribbean Travel News » Cruise News » U.S. Virgin Islands » St. Croix to Welcome First Ship of the Season

St. Croix to Welcome First Ship of the Season

Big news for the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Croix as cruise ships return:

~ Ship visit this Friday marks the return of cruise ships to St. Croix~

ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands, November 26, 2008 - St. Croix will welcome the first cruise ship of the season this Friday when the Oceania Regatta docks at the Ann E. Abramson Marine Facility in Frederiksted, marking the return of regularly scheduled cruise calls to St. Croix after a long hiatus.

Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty said, "Over the past year and a half the Government of the Virgin Islands under the leadership of Governor John de Jongh has worked very diligently to persuade the cruise lines to add St. Croix to their itineraries and we are extremely pleased to now welcome the first cruise passengers of the season to the island." She added, "We must all take the opportunity to make our guests feel welcome and show the world that St. Croix is a destination rich in history, culture, natural beauty and warm hospitality."

Welcome festivities planned by the Department of Tourism begin at 9:00 a.m. and continue until the ship's departure at 6:00 p.m. Entertainment includes performances by the Rising Stars Steel Pan Orchestra, The Guardians of Culture Mocko Jumbies, the St. Croix Educational Complex Quelbe Band and the St. Croix Heritage Dancers. As the 684 cruise passengers disembark, they will be greeted by mocko jumbies dancing to the sounds of steel pan music as well as greeters from the Department of Tourism offering recommendations on the day's activities, souvenirs and Cruzan rum samples. Crew members will receive USVI-branded phone cards and information about the island. A private "Plaque and Keys" ceremony is also planned aboard the ship where Nicholson-Doty will present a plaque to the ship's captain commemorating the ship's inaugural visit to St. Croix.

After passengers have enjoyed a day of shopping, sightseeing tours and other adventures, they will be bid farewell by Department of Tourism greeters, more local entertainment and a St. Croix t-shirt gift.

At the direction of Governor John P. de John, Jr., The Department of Tourism and other agencies have been working for months to ready the destination for the return of cruise ships. In

August, the Department of Tourism and the Economic Development Authority hosted the Preparing the Path conference on St. Croix aimed at preparing the community for the return of the cruise industry. The free conference, attended by nearly 200 participants, covered topics from customer service and tour operations to marketing native arts and crafts and starting a business. In November, the agencies sponsored two days of free customer service training designed to prepare local business leaders and their front-line employees for the arrival of cruise passengers.

To create greater awareness within the St. Croix community about the return of cruise ships, the Department of Tourism also launched a local advertising campaign themed, "St. Croix - It's our Time to Shine." The campaign includes ads counting down the days to the arrival of the first cruise ship, as well as print and radio ads featuring members of the St. Croix community. The campaign emphasizes community pride and the importance of a good first impression.

The Department of Tourism worked closely with other government agencies including the VI Police Department, Housing Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Licensing and Consumer Affairs and the VI Port Authority to ensure readiness. Nicholson-Doty noted, "Our sister agencies deserve much credit for their efforts in preparing for the influx of cruise visitors. From improving roads, repairing public restrooms, organizing clean-ups and securing a police presence, the collaborative efforts of the various government agencies underscore the fact that it takes the entire community to make tourism a success."

The next scheduled cruise call is on January 5, 2009. More than 60 calls are scheduled for St. Croix in 2009.

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