Wednesday January 24, 2007
By Corliss Smithen
Royal Zante Cruises will be providing floating hotel accommodation for a number of the thousands of tourists the Federation is expecting to arrive for the event.
Balmoral, a promotional company, is collaborating with Royal Zante Cruises to market the vessel.
“The ship will provide accommodation for World Cup cricket. We will quickly investigate which other islands need floating hotels. I have an appointment in Barbados tomorrow with Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and they are cooperating with us.“They will brief me on the islands that have not got enough hotel accommodation, so we will have a floating hotel that we can offer,” CEO of Balmoral George Hynes told the SUN.
CEO and Chairman of Royal Zante Cruises Gus Williams said the vessel would provide accommodation and travel for the CWC.
“We’ve had a substantial number of inquiries in regards to the accommodation on the vessel, but we had a slight hiccup with the visa arrangements because Australia and South Africa are going to be based in St. Kitts, but we anticipate that we will receive calls from Trinidad where the finals will be held.
“We will be able to complement those people who will be travelling, so if Australia is in the finals, then the Australian and local fans could use our vessel to head south for the finals and then we can pick up the local people in Barbados for the finals,” Williams said.
With Caribbean nationals appearing to become more interested in cruise travel, Williams is optimistic that this venture would thrive.
“There is a growing market in the Caribbean for cruise and we are going to capitalise on that because since the visa regulations came on board, people have to go and get a visa if they wish to go on a cruise, which was not the case up until a few months ago.
“They don’t need a visa to come on to Royal Zante Cruises because we’re indigenous to the Caribbean, our home port is Zante in St. Kitts and our southern port will be Port-of-Spain in Trinidad & Tobago,” Williams said.
He continued, “After CWC, we will be doing intra-regional cruising. We’re offering three, four, seven and 14-day cruise packages.
Also, we have the ability to act as a ferry and this is in keeping with the high prices that air travel is causing in the inter-islands.
“Therefore, if time is on your side, you can take the vessel in St. Kitts and if you want to get to St. Vincent, it can take you a day or two. If you weren’t in any hurry, you can save yourself a substantial amount of money, especially if it were a family group that will be travelling.
“Right now, to travel from here to Antigua, it is in the region of $600 and something like the Finnjet would be probably half that amount.
“It’s a three in one – it has the ability for dedicated cruising, it has the ability to offer a ferry service and the ability to offer inter-island trade by way of a freight service which the vessel has got as part of its facilities.”
Royal Zante Cruises boasts four-diamond accommodation, according to Williams.
“The ship has commodore class, which is a four-diamond accommodation, we’ve also got restaurants, casinos, a hospital, an indoor swimming pool and jacuzzi, a sauna.
“The vessel was designed as a cruise ferry and it served the Scandinavian countries in the northern hemisphere.
“It is regarded as a classic vessel. It has a top speed of 30 knots per hour and for a cruise line that is quite a task, so we could get from here to Nevis in a matter of 10 to 15 minutes…It can also carry cargo,” he said.
“The price is going to be affordable because you don’t have to find US dollars to come on board the ship, the tickets will be commensurate with the different classes….”
Royal Zante Cruises is the first cruise liner in the Caribbean and will be based in St. Kitts.
“It’s a boom for St. Kitts/Nevis because we are one of the jurisdictions in the Caribbean that has a cruise operation.
“This will help to create a maritime industry and St. Kitts will lead in that industry in the Caribbean, so our young people can look towards the maritime industry for work.
“Our farmers will do better because they will be able to grow food for the vessel and in time to come, we could see St. Kitts boasting three or four vessels in the Caribbean market. We are all-year round cruising…,” Williams said.
Royal Zante Cruises is expected to arrive and dock at Port Zante in Basseterre in mid-February.