Nov. 29, 2004 Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines will start allowing its passengers to come ashore in Frederiksted during bunkering stops Tuesday night, Jaye Hilton, corporate communications manager, said from Miami Monday.
The Voyager of the Seas should arrive from St. Thomas at the Ann Abramson pier between 7:15 and 8 p.m., just in time for passengers to attend a Crucian Cultural Bazaar complete with music, arts and crafts and mocko jumbies.
"The passengers expressed an interest in locally-made arts and crafts," Pamela Richards, tourism commissioner, said.
The ships arrive after spending the day in St. Thomas or other nearby port.
Because waterfront Strand Street is torn up due to the Frederiksted Renovation Project, the event will run inland one street on King Street from Custom House Street to Hill Street.
Chris Hunter, who owns Scuba West on Strand Street in Frederiksted, said he will stay open Tuesday night, but worries visitors will soon run out of things to do on King Street. He fears they will wander into Frederiksted's less desirable neighborhoods and find trouble.
"I don't want something to happen and they'll never come back," he said of the cruise ships.
Richards said the V.I. Police Department has an operational plan for the events. "I'm sure it will be implemented," she said.
Alice Henry, director of Our Town Frederiksted, said she too feels confident the police will provide a strong presence to deter crime.
Large cruise ships quit calling in 2002 after cruise line officials complained about the island's crime problem. They also said there was little demand by passengers to visit St. Croix.
Passengers will take a complimentary trolley from the cruise ship down the pier to the Crucian Cultural Festival. While the trolley will avoid Strand Street, the sidewalks will allow passengers to shop at Strand Street stores.
Richards said Fort Frederik will be open for visits.
The commissioner said that complimentary taxi service will be provided for the ship's crew members to Kmart so they can shop for sundries.
"It's worth the cost of the taxi," she said, anticipating the ship's crew will tell passengers the next time the ship visits for bunkering about the good time they had ashore.
Our Town Frederiksted will hold one-hour, free walking tours of the town. Henry said that the tour will show passengers around Frederiksted's historical and architectural highlights.
Henry said she hopes visits by cruise ship passengers while their ship takes on fuel will help St. Croix's beleaguered economy.
"But I'm taking a wait-and-see attitude," Henry said.
There appears to be some confusion as to the actual date passengers would start coming shore. Hilton said Nov. 30 was always the scheduled date, but Richards said the cruise line asked for an extra week beyond the slated Nov. 23 start date to ensure that Frederiksted had addressed the crime issue.
Hilton said the ship carries up to 3,800 passengers.
Hilton said Royal Caribbean started bunkering ships on Nov. 22 and has made several visits since then. She said the Serenade of the Seas bunkered on Sunday, but no passengers came ashore.
She said visits will continue through October 2005, with three to five ships bunkering each week once the cruise ship season gets in full swing. Hilton said no ships are scheduled for the rest of the week.
Hilton said the bunkering procedure will be carefully monitored to make sure no fuel spills occur.
She said the ships will take on only fuel, not provisions.
Hilton said Royal Caribbean is bunkering in St. Croix because they got the best price on fuel.
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