BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – The world’s largest cruise ship, “Icon of the Seas” docked at Port Zante in St. Kitts on its maiden voyage Tuesday with an estimated 5,610 passengers on board.
Tourism Minister Marsha Henderson, said tourism contributes to more than 40 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), adding “ that simply means that most of our people make their living off of the industry.
”I am indeed satisfied not just to see that we managed to get the Icon of the Seas but how our industry partners, our stakeholders, our sister agencies like SCASPA (St. Christopher Air and Sea Port Authority) and UDC (Urban Development Corporation) how they are executing today”.
She said the vessel is perhaps “the fourth or the fifth of what we call the Oasis Class ships, and these ships have been coming to St. Kitts since 2011.
“So, we’ve had a long, solid history with Royal Caribbean since 2011, and they continue to show their confidence in us as a destination. I am happy that we are seeing the fruits of our labour”.
Chief executive officer of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, Elison “Tommy” Thompson, expressed his delight with the ongoing partnership between St. Kitts and the Royal Caribbean Group.
“We’re just really pleased that St. Kitts is the first port of call on this inaugural revenue sailing, and we are really proud of our relationship with Royal Caribbean, and we’re just going to go from strength to strength, and the fact that we’ve got this beautiful vessel here in port today that’s going to be making regular calls to St. Kitts, we are actually delighted about that,” he said.
The Vice President of Government Relations for the Americas and the Royal Caribbean Group, Russel Benford, said the Icon of the Seas is unique and represents innovation.
“I’m incredibly happy; this ship, the Icon of the Seas, represents seven years of dreaming, of innovation, of design, construction just to get her here today. So, I am happy to be here in St. Kitts to celebrate her inaugural call, and I’m just super excited. We appreciate the hospitality and are just very happy to be here in St. Kitts.
“Icon of the seas represents 50 years of innovation since our very first ship that sailed into the Caribbean. It’s been an evolutionary process. We strive to improve every single ship, every single day. So this ship really represents 50 years of innovation at Royal Caribbean Group and the cruise industry. The ship is different from any ship you’ve ever seen before,” he added.
Benford said Royal Caribbean continues to innovate and prove to the world its commitment to sustainability.
“We are very proud of the innovations onboard. Royal Caribbean is really a leader not just in the cruise industry but also in the maritime space. This ship has two innovations that I really want to talk about. The first is we have the first waste energy system on a cruise ship on the planet.
“We actually take waste that’s generated onboard by our guests and our crew members, and we convert that back to energy to actually power the ship. Secondly, this ship is powered by LNG (Liquified Natural Gas), which means she is a lot cleaner, a lot more sustainable than any other large ships on our fleet, and we are happy we continue to innovate.
“Each and every single ship is more environmentally friendly than the last, and we take great pride in the fact that we think about sustainability, and we practise what we preach every single day,” Benford said.
The Icon of the Seas, which set sail from its home port in Miami, three days ago, is to visit two other countries before ending its first voyage.