Ag. Deputy Chief Information Officer
Department of Information & Public Relations
The return of Disney Fantasy cruise ship to the Territory on August 28 was commemorated with several activities including a parade, serenade by steel pans and a plaque giving ceremony at the Cruise Pier.
Captain Thord was presented with a plaque welcoming back the ship after its yearlong absence following the devastation caused by the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert, Premier and Minister of Tourism, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE and Minister for Communications and Works, Honourable Mark Vanterpool and other government officials witnessed the presentation ceremony.
Premier Smith said that he was elated to see the Disney cruise ship docking at the port as it signaled the Territory’s preparedness for its long awaited return.
He said, “We are also grateful to Disney for the support that they gave in helping to instruct us, so to speak, in what needs to be done. They made some visits and pointed out areas that needed to be worked on to ensure that their guests get the experience they expected.”
Minister Vanterpool in remarks said roads, beaches and historical sites were restored to pave the way for the ship’s return. He said his ministry ensured that areas were not rushed but that ultimately, areas of interest to guests were safe.
Honourable Vanterpool added, “We did a lot with some of the other amenities. The beach at Beef Island is up and running to take some of the crowd from Cane Garden Bay which is also operating well. We have all of our sister islands and hopefully we can get Anegada back in and eventually Peter Island and Cooper Island back in the itinerary.”
The cleanup of the Territory was done through the collaborative efforts of the private and public sector through the Cruise Stakeholders Committee. The committee chaired by Chief Executive Officer of the Tortola Pier Park Ltd., Mr. Vance Lewis was formed to ensure that the final stages of the cleanup of tourist attractions and the main arteries of the Territory’s roads are suitable for residents and visitors.
The committee consists of the departments of Public Works, Conservation and Fisheries and Waste Management. Other stakeholders include the Office of the City Manager, Tortola Pier Park, the BVI Tourist Board, the BVI Ports Authority, the Taxi and Livery Commission, the BVI Taxi Association and local cruise agents.
Mr. Lewis said the pier park is 75 percent restored and new developments are underway for the park.
“We are trying to do something new with building five and we are trying to do some new things to have a more interactive cruise experience. When the season comes into full swing in October, we are going to be a little bit better than we were pre-Irma level,” he said.
Meanwhile, Director for the BVI Tourist Board, Mrs. Sharon Flax-Brutus said there has been a lot of work in the background and on the front end to ensure that the BVI is ready for the return of the cruise ships.
Mrs. Flax-Brutus added, “Our job at the BVI Tourist Board is to make sure that we are as welcoming as possible. Disney helped us with our guests experience program, so for us, safety is most important as well as authenticity and friendliness.”
The Territory can expect the return of Norwegian in October and other new ships for the remainder of the year.
Residents are reminded to do their part and keep the BVI beautiful as work continues in the restoration of the Territory.
- Voice clip of Premier and Minister of Tourism, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE
- Audio clip of Minister for Communications and Works, Honourable Mark Vanterpool
- Audio clip of Chief Executive Officer of the Tortola Pier Park Ltd., Mr. Vance Lewis
- Audio clip of Director for the BVI Tourist Board, Mrs. Sharon Flax-Brutus