Road Town Declared Safe Ahead Of Cruise Ships' Arrival

Sherine Williams, Journalist | December 05, 2017 5:56 am MST
Photo Credit: Sherine Williams/BVI Platinum News
As the BVI's main island of Tortola gets ready to receive its first cruise ships since the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, its capital Road Town has been declared safe for visitors.

Two cruise ships from Thomson Cruises are set to dock at the Tortola Pier Park this week. The first, which will arrive tomorrow, December 6, has a passenger capacity of 1,300 and the second, which will arrive on Wednesday, December 7, has a passenger capacity of 1,800.

Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communications and Works, Jeremy Hodge is overseeing the clean-up operations in Road Town in preparation for the visitors' arrival. He told BVI Platinum News that the government is confident that the capital is safe enough to accommodate visitors.

"While the Territory is not fully ready at this time, it's safe enough for us to have these smaller ships. They don't have as many people as some larger ships, so it's manageable," Hodge said.

He said the Communications and Works Ministry is ensuring that infrastructure in the town is safe, while the Health Ministry is working to clear debris from the capital.

"Our main concern with safety is like dangling electrical lines and other electrical utility debris that has been hanging around. You would have noticed that we had persons on Main Street clearing those lines that were hanging," Hodge explained.

Workers can be seen patching roads and clearing debris from different areas of Road Town on a daily basis. However, some shops, restaurants and popular tourist attractions remain closed at this time.

Hodge admitted that many historical sites such as the HM Prison Museum on Main Street and the J.R. O'Neal Botanical Gardens are not ready to receive visitors. However, he addded that the cruise managers were informed about the state of these attractions and still expressed an interest in visiting the BVI.

"These visitors are coming mainly from the UK and they have been exposed to the media, so they do understand what we have been through. But we are making every effort to build back...Hopefully they will be surprised to see the progress we have made so far, compared to what they have seen on their media coverage," Hodge continued.

Pier Park Prepared

Leasing and Marketing Manager for the Tortola Pier Park, Meslyn Allan said some 28 stores will be ready to receive Tortola's first cruise passengers.

"Visitors to the facility will be able to enjoy services such as health and wellness, footwear, eye care and sunglasses, restaurants and bars, jewelry and watches, men's and women's fashion...and much more," Allan said.

J.R ONeal Botanical Gardens in Road Town, Tortola is a popular tourist attraction. It was severely damaged during Hurricane Irma and remains closed to visitors.
Photo Credit: Sherine Williams/BVI Platinum News
She said Customer Service Ambassadors will be at the park to assist visitors as they explore.

The arrival of the cruise ships is a positive sign for BVI's tourism, which contributes some 40 percent to the Territory's annual earnings.

Last week, a cruise ship from the Norwegian-based cruise line, Sea Dream Yacht Club, docked at Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke and also made a stop in Anegada.

Prior to that, another cruise ship from Crystal Cruises had made a call in Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda.
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