By Davion Smith, BVI News Staff
Representatives from major cruise lines have arrived in the British Virgin Islands to evaluate the territory’s readiness to accept their ships, and at least one cruise line said they are pleased with the progress of recovery, so far.
However, local authorities are being told that there are still unsafe areas in the territory that need to be secured.
“The BVI is definitely moving in the right direction. It’s been about three-and-a-half months since I’ve been here. I see a lot of progress has been made on the roads — removal of the vegetation, the powerlines, and the cars that were damaged. There are still some boats to go but there is good progress on the boats and it’s very encouraging,” said Russell Daya, who is the Executive Director of Marine and Port Operations, Port Developments and Itinerary Planning for Disney Fantasy.
He was speaking to journalists at a media conference at The Moorings on Monday, May 14.
Not sure when Disney will return
Though encouraged by the territory’s recovery progress, the Disney cruise line representative said the territory must achieve more before his cruise company can return.
“I can’t answer the question as to when we might bring the vessel back … It’s not just: ‘the roads are fixed and we come back’. We have to look at the safety and security of our guests and the families that we bring to the island and to the territory. So, that will take some further evaluation,” Daya said.
In the meantime, Disney has asked local government to provide his company with weekly progress reports.
He said those updates on different tourist attractions and infrastructural projects will help major cruise lines to ‘accurately and timely assess the progress that is being made’.
It will also assist them to measure when they might return, Daya said.
To fast-track the process, Daya made specific recommendations for one of the top tourist locations on the island of Tortola — Cane Garden Bay.
“When we were in Cane Garden Bay earlier, there is still quite a lot of the structures that are being rebuilt. But when we look at the safety of them we look at them from a five-year-old’s eyes or a six-year-old’s eyes, they could easily wander into an area right under a construction site without that being screened off or shielded or adequately protected; then there is an accident waiting to happen,” he explained.
“Our guests are very understanding of the devastation that took place here and they are very smart so they get it. It’s not like they don’t know the damage that’s gone on down here and the recovery is slow … But we will never rush back to a destination until we are 100 percent satisfied that the placed we would take our guests to the places they might go on their own are 100 percent safe,” he added.
Before their cruise line representatives’ departure today (May 15), they will assess the recovery and safety of other areas such as Virgin Gorda and the Tortola Pier Park.
Companies such as the Norweigan Cruise are among the other cruise lines from the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) that are currently in the BVI assessing the territory’s readiness.
The FCCA is a trade organisation composed of 18 member cruise lines operating nearly 200 vessels in Florida, the Caribbean, and Latin America.
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