On the tenth day of its 14-day South American cruise, a German vessel made its final stop for 2012 in Port-of-Spain on Monday. At around 9 am, the German AIDAvita cruise ship docked at the Cruise Ship Complex on the western side of the Hyatt Regency on Wrightson Road. Their cruise began on December 21 in Brazil and stops were made at ports of Manaus, Santarem and Belem. A stop was also made in French Guiana on December 29 before the boat docked in Trinidad where passengers were expected to ring in 2013.
After disembarking, the passengers and crew members were greeted by a T&T cultural display at the Cruise Ship Complex which included traditional Carnival characters such as towering moko jumbies prancing to live steelpan music. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Juliana Johan-Boodram said 1,200 passengers arrived to Trinidad on board the AIDAvita and 700 of them disembarked to participate in tours set up by the ministry and the Tourism Development Company (TDC).
She said some of the tours would include visits to the Asa Wright Nature Centre in Arima and the Pitch Lake in La Brea as well as historical parts of Chaguaramas and central Trinidad. Speaking at the Aida Bar on the boat’s eighth floor, Johan-Boodram said she was pleased that the passengers could enjoy a sunny day in Trinidad in the midst of the persistent rainfall experienced throughout December. She thanked the AIDAvita crew members for making Trinidad its last port of call for 2012.
Captain of the vessel, Boris Becker, said this was his second visit to Trinidad in the ten years he had spent at AIDA Cruises. “We are very happy to be here in Trinidad and Tobago and we appreciate all your efforts to make PoS a good tourism port,” he said. Becker described T&T as “a lovely place to be” and said he noticed that the locals were friendly and welcoming.
“Of course there are things that we can work on such as economic aspects and ensuring the safety and security for passengers.” He said while some improvements can be made, he sees T&T as a good travel destination on cruise ship itineraries.
Chairman of the Port Authority of T&T Joseph Toney assured the captain and crew members of the AIDAvita that efforts will be made to raise the standard of T&T ports for vessels. “We have been collaborating and putting our minds together to ensure that whenever cruise ships arrive, the passengers will have more than a welcome stay in our country."
Toney said the Port Authority of T&T is already looking into new strategies for 2013. “On your next visit, you’ll be surprised to see the improvements made,” he promised the German captain. Speaking to the T&T Guardian shortly afterwards, Toney said there is no reason why ports in T&T should be of a lesser standard than those in St Lucia, St Vincent, Grenada, Barbados and Jamaica.
He said plans are in progress to improve the ports of entry to T&T. He also said considerations are being made to offer more reasonable and enticing fuel rates to cruise ship operators. In exchange for this, he said, more cruise ship passengers would visit T&T. At the end of the event, Captain Becker and others present made a toast to the new year and invited guests were led on a tour of the AIDAvita including its art gallery, restaurants, pool deck, and spas.