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Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 16, 2019 (SKNIS): As St. Kitts and Nevis continues to mushroom into a preferred tourism destination globally, many accolades are being heaped upon the country including the recent Caribbean Journal’s Cruise Destination of the Year Award 2020.

The construction of a second cruise pier at Port Zante signals that growth in the tourism sector which many citizens, residents, visitors, tourism officials and organizations are hailing as a progressive booming tourism economy.

The second cruise pier constructed at Port Zante welcomed its first two cruise ships, the Celebrity Summit, with a maximum capacity of 2,450 passengers and the Seabourn Odyssey, with a total capacity of 450 passengers, on December 16, 2019. Two other cruise ships berthed at the first cruise pier—the Britannia with an overall capacity of 4, 372 passengers and the Anthem of the Seas with a maximum capacity of 4,905 passengers.    

However, a handful of purveyors of gloom and doom over the progress of the second cruise pier has come in for condemnation from Minister of Public Infrastructure and Transport, the Honourable Ian Patches Liburd.

“The only sad part to this is that those who aspire for leadership in this country are the ones who are influencing and trying to damage the potential of those who will benefit most from the pier,” said Minister Liburd at a short ceremony to welcome the cruise visitors, while highlighting that “within the grassroots economy, the hair-braiders, the massagers, the craft vendors and more importantly the taxi-drivers” will benefit tremendously. “The taxi-drivers who are ambassadors must be proud.”

Speaking in the National Assembly on December 16, Opposition Senator Honourable Nigel Carty, said “the pier is a spoilt pier. The pier can’t be used”, despite the Celebrity Summit and the Seabourn Odyssey docking at the pier the same day.

“The pier is designed to accommodate all vessels, including the Oasis class vessels,” said Minister Liburd in response to Senator Carty, who alleged that the pier could not accommodate Oasis class ships.

“We have heard a lot of invented allegations. We have heard a lot of lies manufactured…the fact that we are here is testimony that we are doing great things,” stated Minister Liburd.

Captain of the Celebrity Summit, Ioannis Kasimatis, said that the second cruise pier exceeds the quality of the first cruise pier. He said the second cruise pier is wider with enough fenders, enough boulders and a better angle against the wind. Captain Kasimatis congratulated the government.

“As the smallest independent nation in the Western Hemisphere, we can accommodate the largest vessels afloat in the world and that in itself gives me this spirit of humility,” Minister Liburd said. “I am humbled by the fact that as a Team Unity Administration, we have done what the former administration in 20 years couldn’t do, that is to construct a new pier that can accommodate the world’s largest ships.”

Come 2020, Oasis class vessels will begin docking at the second cruise pier at Port Zante, which will have additional amenities including a reception facility.

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