Feb. 10, 2004 – With an estimated 14,000 passengers plus crew scheduled to arrive on St. Thomas aboard eight cruise ships on Wednesday, the Main Street shopping district will once again be turned into a pedestrian shopping mall.
According to The West Indian Co., the following ships will call on St. Thomas: the Costa Atlantica, Disney Magic, Explorer of the Seas, Golden Princess, Seven Seas Navigator, Sunbird, Volendam and Zuiderdam.
The Magic will anchor in the inner harbor; the Sunbird and Zuiderdam in the outer harbor. The Volendam will be berthed at the Crown Bay south dock and the Navigator, at the Crown Bay homeport facility. The other three ships will be at the West Indian Co. dock.
In a release issued on Tuesday, St. Thomas/Water Island Administrator James O'Bryan Jr. said: "We want our guests to truly enjoy their traveling, touring and shopping experience. Turning Main Street into a shopping mall will allow our visitors to shop and stroll along the Main Street unimpeded by traffic congestion."
Main Street was converted into a pedestrian mall during the inaugural visit of the new Queen Mary 2 on Jan. 24 and again on Jan. 28, when eight ships also were in port. Although O'Bryan described the two closings to motor vehicles as successful, some vendors were not pleased.
For the Queen Mary's visit, the Tourism Department arranged for live music groups to perform from various locations downtown. According to Joe Aubain, executive director of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, the event was "catastrophic for some businesses" because the placement of bands virtually prevented customers from entering their stores.
Aubain says he realizes the need to close Main Street to vehicles, but additional planning is required to make the event go more smoothly. For instance, he says, there need to be designated areas for taxi pickup and dropoff, preferably on the west end of the shopping area, to alleviate congestion and confusion.
Aubain said O'Bryan will be observing Wednesday's pedestrian traffic flow from the balcony of the Chamber of Commerce offices to evaluate the situation firsthand.
Neither O'Bryan nor Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards were available for comment.
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