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Arvia Makes ‘Historic’ Maiden Visit to Saint Lucia

By Reginald Andrew
Arvia vessel anchored at the Pt. Seraphine docks.
Arvia vessel anchored at the Pt. Seraphine docks.

With accommodation for more than 4,000 passengers, the P&O Cruises’ newest vessel, Arvia, made its maiden voyage to Saint Lucia, on Wednesday.

It was a “majestic sight” to behold as the 185, 500-ton cruise ship anchored at the Pt. Seraphine ports for what local tourism officials described as a “historic” moment for the hospitality industry.

Arvia is the largest cruise ship to visit Port Castries and is a new excel class ship that joined the P&O Cruises’ fleet expansion plan, in December, 2022.

A high-level delegation of local tourism officials, carnival-costumed dancers and steel pan music warmly greeted the visitors as they disembarked to savour the unique experience of the destination. Also on hand were representatives from respective tour guide companies to meet the guests and accompany them to their selected tour options.

Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire was among the many local tourism industry representatives who extended a hearty welcome to the travelers and encouraged them to enjoy the ‘beauty of the island’ and it’s unique, lovely scenery during their visit, and urged them to visit the destination again. He underlined the significance of the occasion as this is Arvia’s second stop on their Caribbean voyage, having traveled from Saint Marteen to Saint Lucia.

“Saint Lucia is an island of extraordinary beauty, and I hope that on all your tours today, you get a chance to enjoy that beauty that we offer. And also take an opportunity to meet Saint Lucians, to speak with them and to interact with them and to really enjoy that hospitality that we share whenever we meet visitors that come to our country,” declared an evidently thrilled and excited Dr. Hilaire.

Utilizing the occasion to promote the destination’s promotional campaign package, Dr. Hilaire noted: “It is quite a sight to see so many of your passengers disembarking and about to go on tours and different excursions. It means a lot to us, our island depends heavily on the visits of your passengers …it means a lot to us, to our economy and to business in our country.”

Hilaire disclosed that future infrastructural upgrades will be undertaken at the island’s ports, to better serve cruise ships and travelers.

“In the next couple years there will be improvements made to Port Castries and to Saint Lucia, to make the cruise experience even richer and more rewarding,” said Hilaire. “There’ll be upgrades to this port, and to Port Castries, generally…in two years’ time, you will have a richer and more rewarding experience when you do come to Saint Lucia,” he added.

He said the island’s key tourism personnel have been working assiduously to create more experiences in Saint Lucia, to offer to visitors.

“We appreciate your visit and when you do come to Saint Lucia, we want to be the best host that you we can ever be,” Hilaire said.

Addressing the gathering, Arvia skipper Paul Brown declared: “It is absolutely my pleasure to bring Arvia to your wonderful port. I have been visiting Saint Lucia for 32 years, and so I’m delighted to see all of the changes, improvements, and enhancements that you have made for our guests over the years. And so, I very much look forward to the future development of the port and for future calls here.”

Providing details of the vessel, he explained that Arvia weighs 185, 581 gross tons, with 4,765 guests, and more than 1,700 guests partaking in on-shore excursions, Wednesday.

“This is an ideal opportunity for them to see all the beauty of the island, as well as, enhance its economy …and to enjoy all of the hospitality that your lovely island delivers again and again,” said the captain.

Mayor of Castries Geraldine Lendor Gabriel, said she was pleased to welcome the visitors to the island on behalf of the Castries Constituency Council (CCC), adding that: “Importantly, we recognize that as a city we are central in the development of tourism and in the delivery of a quality experience to your guests.”

The mayor went on to assure the visitors that the Council is committed to do what’s required to ensure that they do not only have a good experience but are very safe as well.

“As a city, we recognize the importance of putting those measures in place and we have committed to doing so,” she said.

She added “We all give you the commitment that we will not only strive to give you a high quality service now, but that we are committed to incremental improvement and growth over time.”

CEO of the St Lucia Tourism Authority [SLTA], Lorine Charles said that as the destination’s major marketing agency the SLTA is not only about bringing visitors to Saint Lucia, but also about visitors having an endearing experience whilst on island.

Cox &Co. Ltd. is credited for their longevity and unyielding service to the industry, and CEO Matthew Beaubrun was pleased with the relations they have formed over the years with the cruise industry. Recalling that the company has been in business, since 1955, he said, the first ship that docked at the then newly installed Pt. Seraphine port, was in1988.

“And now we have a most magnificent ship …and it just shows the growth of this industry and what it has done for Saint Lucia and for the Caribbean,” he noted.

Added Beaubrun: “It is really important for Saint Lucia, because without the cruise industry a lot of the attractions and a lot of the businesses that deal with a lot of the volumes would not survive. So, it is extremely important.”

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