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Cruise Ship Tentatively Scheduled for St. Croix in Early January

Dec. 19, 2006 — Plans are in the making for a cruise ship to visit St. Croix on Jan. 5, according to Sen. Neville James.
Oceania Cruises is "seriously considering" a St. Croix port call from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, Jan 5., said James, chair of the Committee on Economic Development, Planning and Environmental Protection.
"This is not a bunkering call," James emphasized. "The ship will be calling on St. Croix during the daytime and the passengers are looking forward to shore excursions, tours and shopping. I am calling on the St. Croix Taxi Federation, tour providers and vendors to be in a position to do what they do best when our visitors arrive on shore."
In October, James said, he began discussions about what needed to be "put in place to make this happen," along with Sen. Juan Figueroa-Serville; Kent Bernier, director of the Public Finance Authority; and representatives from the cruise line. A subsequent meeting on Dec. 14 included all senators or their representatives.
Some logistical issues need to be resolved before the visit can be confirmed, James said. The ship's previous stop will be in Virgin Gorda, and ships' agents hope to have local agents aboard to assist with a smooth transition into the Virgin Islands. They have requested that passengers get offered the opportunity for shore excursions including horseback riding; kayak tours; music, art and cultural events; and tours of Christiansted and Frederiksted.
Oceania Cruises is an upscale, mid-size cruise line catering to people over 50. There are three ships in the line: the Regatta, the Insignia and the Nautica, all with a guest capacity of just under 700 and a staff of 400. If this trial call with limited shore-excursion choices proves successful, a "strong move" can be made to include St. Croix in future itineraries, Oceania officials have said.
A lot of arrangements have to be made in a short time, James acknowledged, and traffic issues will be paramount since the ship will visit on the day of the Children's Parade.
"Time is money, and we need to take advantage of what time we have and put our best effort toward rolling out the welcome mat for these passengers," James said.
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