Cruise execs buoyed by USVI harbor plans

The Ports of Virgin Islands team met with cruise ship lines leaders in Miami to discuss plans for improving harbors on the islands
USVI Department of Tourism

The United States Virgin Islands (USVI) Department of Tourism says cruise executives in Miami are “buoyed” by plans for their harbor ports.

The tourism department said executives of the ports of the USVI group recently completed their quarterly update with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association’s (FCCA) Operations Committee.

The department said cruise executives were “briefed and provided feedback on port improvements, including the introduction of transportation to the Charlotte Amalie Harbor this year.”

The USVI team included Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty; Commissioner of Public Works Nelson Petty; Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) David Mapp; Assistant Executive Director and Director of Engineering Damian Cartwright; and Clifford Graham, chief executive officer of The West Indian Company Limited (WICO).

Petty outlined progress on implementing harbor transportation and updated the FCCA group on the Main Street and Veterans Drive projects, while Mapp and Cartwright spoke about the proposed dredging of the Charlotte Amalie Harbor, its adjacent channel as well as cruise ship berths at WICO, to accommodate larger Oasis Class vessels, according to the statement.

It said the dredging design for Crown Bay and a new mooring dolphin to accommodate Quantum Class vessels on the north berth were discussed, along with plans for a Christiansted dredge project for St. Croix.

Graham shared with cruise executives a revised concept for proposed new berths in Charlotte Amalie, while Nicholson-Doty outlined the department’s updated Crisis Communications preparedness plan and the department’s new Purpose in Paradise voluntourism program, the tourism department said.

“The program was met with enthusiasm by the executives present, who also complimented the U.S. Virgin Islands team for sharing helpful updates in the aftermath of last September’s storms,” it said.

Nicholson-Doty said “having an ongoing dialogue with the FCCA, as we upgrade our infrastructure and visitor experience is a key component of our destination strategy.”

She underscored that the safe and free movement of visitors and traffic complements growth plans as cruise sector activity revives in the territory.

Carlos Torres de Navarra, chairman of the FCCA Operations Committee and vice president, Commercial Port Operations of Carnival Cruise Lines, noted that the FCCA was “very happy with the honest and frank discussions.

“One of the big things that we’ve been pushing as an industry — and the territory has agreed that it was important — was this whole issue of water transportation to add another element to what is the beauty of the USVI.

“So, we (are) really happy to hear that potentiality,” he said. “We’re looking at a fourth-quarter installation start of those operations. It’s just one more thing that’s going to make the USVI great.”

On the heels of the Ports of the Virgin Islands meeting, the department of tourism said the USVI delegation, along with the FCCA members, met with tourism and ports representatives from the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Dominica, Puerto Rico and St. Maarten for talks centered on disaster preparedness and strengthening Eastern Caribbean itineraries.

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