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WICO, CRUISE LINE OFFICIALS TO MEET

Officials of the West Indian Co. Ltd. and cruise line representatives are expected to meet this month to finalize cruise ship schedules for the next two years.
The delegation led by Edward Thomas, WICO president and chief executive officer, will attempt to have lines reschedule some calls, particularly on days of multiple ship visits, according to WICO spokesman Calvin Wheatley.
"In setting itineraries, cruise lines respond to the demands of their passengers," he added, noting, "St. Thomas is a must port in the Eastern Caribbean because of its reputation as a shopping Mecca, and this is followed by demands for foreign ports in the Caribbean."
In a recently released newsletter, WICO re-emphasized that it has no role in planning itineraries of any cruise line. "Because of the close working relationship with officials of the various cruise lines, WICO has been attempting to influence decisions to take more vessels to St. Croix," the newsletter said.
Again this year, WICO will push for increased calls to St. Croix when company officials meet with representatives of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association. In fact, representatives of the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce and the island's taxi associations, will attend the meeting in the attempt to have the cruise lines increase port calls to St. Croix.
Wheatley did admit that in the past, WICO has not been as successful as it would like in persuading the lines to change their scheduled arrivals on days when there are many ships on St. Thomas but few or none in St. Croix.
"The business philosophy of Mr. Thomas is that one good destination does not make a strong region so it is important for each destination in the region to be vibrant," the WICO newsletter said. This is what motivates WICO to help St. Croix strengthen its product and attract additional vessels.
In other developments at WICO, the company has taken note of the relocation of many cruise ships to Alaska, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean during the summer season. Most vessels are expected to return in the fall for what appears to be a good season.
"The company will use the reduced cruise-ship traffic period to perform maintenance work in the complex," Wheatley said.
The projects include burying utility lines to facilitate speedy restoration of services that could be disrupted by bad weather.
WICO will also strengthen the dock itself and do maintenance dredging along the dock face.
"After heavy rainfall in the vicinity of the WICO complex, there is a heavy accumulation of silt brought to the dock face from the public roadway exiting to the ocean through storm drains in the WICO property," the company's quarterly newsletter said.

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