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Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships To Bunker On St. Croix

Nov. 5, 2004 – The announcement Friday by Pamela C. Richards, commissioner of Tourism, that Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines will be making bunkering calls four to five times a week in Frederiksted appears to be a mixed blessing.
The Frederiksted waterfront is torn up with construction, some businesses are complaining because customers can't get access to their stores and on top of that the cruise ships are expected to make their stops between 7 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.
However, Julie Renfro, of the Christiansted Restaurant and Retail Association, is excited. She said, "Even if we get 500 people in Christiansted and 500 people in Frederiksted each night, that is more than we have now."
According to a press release from Government House, the ships will arrive at the Ann E. Abramson Pier and Marine Facility starting Nov. 12 and continue through April 2005. However, passengers are not expected to disembark from the ships until Nov. 23.
Renfro said that Richards had been vigorously planning for the arrival of the cruise passengers before official announcement of their arrivals could be made. She said funds are in place to pay overtime to police during the arrivals.
The press release said, "The Department of Tourism has designed and developed a host of festival and special events for the Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships' bunkering calls. Cruise Ship passengers will be greeted by the Crucian Cultural Bazaar where vendors will be selling locally made products along King Street. Late night shopping will be provided so that visitors will have the opportunity to experience the exceptional duty-free values on St. Croix."
Oceana James, executive director of CHANT, which promotes cultural and heritage tours, said Friday that the bunkering calls may force vendors to be creative, but still, "it is good news."
Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards said, "I think this could serve as a catalyst for other cruise ships to come to St. Croix. It also is an opportunity to showcase what we have here." He added, "It is an opportunity for some vendors to make a dollar."
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull stated in the release that this was "extremely good news for St. Croix." He said it will positively impact the island's economy.
Steve Bornn, director of marketing for the Tourism Department, said the visits are the result of a cooperative effort by the V.I. Port Authority, the Offices of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor and Tourism.
Renfro, who has been helping the tourism department lay the groundwork for the visits, said consideration concerning the rising costs of oil was one factor that brought the cruise ships to St. Croix for refueling. She also said the ships will vary in size and carry from 1,500 to 2,500 passengers.
The passengers will not be disembarking the first week to allow, according to the release, "the proper entities to install a passenger access way and to make sure that necessary personnel are in place to ensure passenger safety."
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