Sunday, December 26, 2010

Celebrity Cruises Gives St. Kitts A Vote Of Confidence

You may recall reading St, Kitts: Will Seabourn Sojourn Call There? in a recent story here on Cruise Diva's Blog. My apprehension about a change in Seabourn Sojourn's Nov 30-Dec 10 Yachtsman’s Caribbean itinerary was due to an attack on cruise passengers by armed robbers in mid-November. The robbers, who ambushed a tour bus carrying passengers from Celebrity Mercury, blocked a road and boarded the bus when the driver stopped to clear the way.

As it turned out, Seabourn Sojourn did call at St. Kitts as planned and we chose “The Best of St. Kitts” shore excursion offered by Seabourn in order to tour the island. One of our stops was Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park (pictured here), where security along the road we traveled to the site was armed and highly visible.

It’s obvious St. Kitts takes the safety of their visitors seriously and is making ongoing efforts to assure cruise lines don’t avoid their homeland in the future due to an isolated incident. “A very positive meeting” is the comment made by Minister of Tourism & International Transport, Senator Ricky Skerritt, to describe a visit this month by himself and Tourism Authority CEO, Rosecita Jeffers, to the Port of Miami offices of Royal Caribbean International & Celebrity Cruises.

Senator Skerritt said the face-to-face meeting with top Celebrity officials enabled him to apologize in person on behalf of the Government and citizens of St Kitts & Nevis for the unprecedented Nov 14 robbery of a tour bus carrying passengers from the Celebrity Mercury. The Tourism Minister also took the opportunity to discuss measures being taken locally to strengthen cruise passenger safety and security, and to minimise the risk of a similar incident recurring.

Celebrity’s Head of Security, Gary Bald, also confirmed that, since the incident, security officials from the cruise line were in ongoing contact with the St. Kitts & Nevis Police High Command on matters related to the police investigation. During the meeting, the good news was also revealed by Federico Gonzalez-Denton, RCI/Celebrity’s Director for Government Relations, that the Celebrity Solstice will make two unscheduled calls to St Kitts on Feb 2 and March 3 next year. According to Skerritt, the addition of these two calls is a clear vote of confidence in the viability of St. Kitts as a port-of-call for Celebrity Cruises. Five other Celebrity ships are already making 47 scheduled calls to St Kitts, but this season’s schedule did not previously include calls from the ‘Solstice’.

Located in the northern Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, St. Kitts offers a diverse tourism product developed from the destination’s natural beauty, cultural heritage and rich history. The island’s stunning variety of tourism attractions include hiking through the tropical rainforest, riding the scenic railway that connects the island’s sugar plantations, visiting the Caribelle Batik factory, touring Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, the only man-made UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Eastern Caribbean, and the more traditional vacation pastimes such as watersports, golf, shopping, tennis, gourmet dining, gaming at one of St. Kitts’ two casinos or simply relaxing on one of the island’s sandy beaches. For more information about St. Kitts, visit

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