Dec. 1, 2004 — After several false starts in an effort to jumpstart the economy of St. Croix, it seems like tourism may again be alive and well in Frederiksted.
The Voyager of the Seas pulled into Frederiksted Tuesday night amid much anticipation from government officials, private businesses and the local populace.
St. Croix residents, anxious to witness the arrival, lined the fence erected to cordon off the waterfront re-construction area, and focused on the Ann E. Abramson pier and the approaching mega ship. The excitement was high. Some even cheered as the first tourist-laden buses crossed the construction area.
On King Street, a block party was in full swing; three local bands enticed onlookers to sway and snap their fingers and booths featuring local arts and crafts enticed visitors to take a little Crucian culture back home.
Rick Wallace and about eight of his family and friends loaded up on the locally made souvenirs offered in the Crucian Cultural Bazaar. "We are enjoying it," Wallace said.
"It is not as commercial as other ports, it seems more natural not a put on," visitor Mark Tatum said.
Alice Southern and her beau, John Wilton, who got engaged on the ship, however, said it was "agonizing" getting from the ship into town. Due to construction on Frederiksted's waterfront the V.I. Port Authority along with the Tourism Department transported passengers into town by safari bus and taxi van. Southern said long lines discouraged some passengers. The group, from St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada, was part of the Kuipers family reunion.
A husband and wife, identified only as Mr. and Mrs. Turner, said they hailed from North Hamptonshire in England. "We are ready to come back to St. Croix for a two-week vacation," Mrs. Turner said. The Turners said they appreciated the hospitality of the local people and said the town was very "natural and normal."
One of the taxi drivers who identified himself only as "Red Apple" was shuttling passengers to and from K-Mart. "I did about 12 round trips," he said. Apple said the most often asked question from the visitors was why the ships didnt come to St. Croix before. "They were happy; they liked the place."
The street bazaar began shortly after sunset, and it didn't take long for locals to fill the streets. Larry Hyman said he likes the King Street location. "It gets the whole town involved," he said. Unise Tranberg, owner of Pier 69 Restaurant, was pleased with the turnout. "I did above my normal Tuesday night traffic," she said. "I saw some new customers and the visitors had fun."
Ali Paul, assistant commissioner of the Licensing and Consumer Affairs Department, said, "Its a good work in progress, it has a lot of potential."
Julia Renfro, president of Christiansted Retail and Restaurant Association, was busy throughout the night making sure everything went smoothly. She said there were 14 vendors within the five-block area that was blocked off for the bazaar. "Its a great turnout; the locals really want this to happen," Renfro said.
Police Chief Novelle Francis said everything "went well" and there were no incidents. Francis said he "was amazed" at the number of passengers who chose to visit Frederiksted. He estimated the visitors at about 800 1,000 people.
Mac Welsh, chief of the Port Authority police, said the transfer of passengers was "smooth" and he would not do anything differently at the next port call.
"Frederiksted is on the upswing," Francis said.
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