Leaders of the 34 countries that are members of the Organization of American States (OAS) have gathered in the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago to take part in the Fifth Summit of the Americas, from April 17-19, 2009. This major international political event, which focuses on economical, social and political development of the region, is expected to attract more than 5,000 visitors including heads of state, members of the media and other dignitaries including President Barack Obama, and representatives from North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.
Trinidad and Tobago is the first Caribbean nation to host the summit. In order to supplement the 1,700 existing hotel rooms in Port of Spain, the National Secretariat of Trinidad and Tobago engaged the services of Miami-based Landry & Kling to arrange for dockside ship charters to house thousands of guests. For this important conference, Landry & Kling engaged two cruise ships, the Carnival Victory and Caribbean Princess (pictured above), to provide close to 3,000 rooms for the event. Increasingly, dockside charters like these have become vital for booking large-scale conferences and global events in regions where demand for accommodations outstrips supply.
Aside from fulfilling the immediate need for guest rooms, Landry & Kling's CEO Joyce Landry says, "The ships are ideally located just steps away from the center of summit activity, docked in downtown Port of Spain. Because of this, both ships will be used for pre-summit and parallel events, including breakfast/lunch meetings and plenary sessions. The ships will provide needed venues for private sector events for 400 to over 1,000 people for the opening ceremony reception."
The vessels also have business centers that are handy for media members and the various delegations accommodated onboard. The ships' restaurants will also serve meals to staff and volunteers on a daily basis. Both ships are docked adjacent to the Hyatt Hotel and a short distance from the Summit Village, which is a main gathering spot for delegates and special guests. Landry says the per-room cost is comparable to any hotel in Port of Spain. Plus, as cruise passengers know, the ships include meals and services that would be charged as extras in a hotel.
A very important factor is for the ships to be a self-liquidating expense in the summit budget. As a cost recovery initiative, both ships will set sail after the summit is over, on 4-day post summit cruises with all revenues going to the government to defray the cost of deploying the vessels to Trinidad for the Summit. Carnival Victory will re-position to Barbados and cruise from there to Antigua and St. Maarten. Caribbean Princess will sail from Port of Spain, Trinidad and cruise to Curacao and Margarita Island, Venezuela. These cruises were offered to local residents and were quickly sold out.
For Landry & Kling, managing dockside charters as floating hotels is an extension of the company's ability to create highly memorable incentive cruise programs and meetings at sea. It has been organizing cruise events around the globe for more than 27 years. In fact, providing additional housing where none is available has been their hallmark. The company has become a leading provider of ship charters for corporate meetings and conferences, as well as all types of high-profile global and governmental events, including the 2005 Super Bowl in Jacksonville, FL and the 2007 Cricket World Cup in Barbados. For previous events, Landry & Kling's floating hotels and meeting facilities at sea have served anywhere from 150 to 15,000 guests, and the equivalent of more than 42,000 room nights. Even on land, that is a major accomplishment. The two ship charters organized by Landry & Kling have made an invaluable contribution to the logistical needs of the event.
And, in case you're interested, President Obama isn't staying on either ship.