MIAMI, USA (TVLW) – While in Miami this week, US Virgin Islands Governor John deJongh Jr. met with the officials of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) and representatives of major cruise lines whose ships regularly call on the US Virgin Islands.
The meeting, held at Royal Caribbean International’s headquarters, allowed a free-flow discussion on some of the challenges facing the cruise industry. The delegation was led by FCCA president Michelle Paige.
DeJongh briefed industry leaders on efforts to bring the central government, Port Authority and West Indian Company together towards addressing the needs of the cruise industry as it seeks out to promote increased cruise traffic to the territory and revitalize the visitor experience while in the Virgin Islands.
“The meeting afforded me to hear first hand of the concerns ranging from a changing competitive structure, to the overall economic impact of the cruise industry’s presence in the Virgin Islands.
“I heard loud and clear the concern about traffic congestion and its impact on the overall visitor experience. The traffic snarls are creating a real concern for not only visitors and local businesses but also impacts the general quality of life,” said deJongh.
In response to another concern raised by the cruise line officials, deJongh spoke of a task force which has been assembled to address the revitalization of downtown Charlotte Amalie. “We have to look at our historic town and see how the infrastructure can be modernized and improved.”
The meeting, which followed one day after a major announcement by Disney Cruise Lines that it would add St Croix as a port of call beginning in 2009, also addressed other lines contemplating adding cruise ship traffic to St Croix.
“Attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy while on day visits to St Croix will drive other cruise lines decision to expand service to St Croix,” deJongh said.
DeJongh assured the industry representatives that he is supportive of the formation of a panel whose mission will be to work in tandem with the cruise industry towards the development of a long-term agreement.
“Any task force must comprise both the public and private sectors and will factor in the needs of the two island districts as relates to expanding our cruise business in the Virgin Islands,” he said.
Cruise lines represented at the meeting included: Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney and Holland America.