Days before the month of April comes to an end Minister for Communications and Works, Hon. Mark Vanterpool admitted that the Territory is in a race to complete the requirements Disney cruiseline stipulated for its return in July.
The Territory has an agreement with both Norwegian and Disney Cruise lines, but since the devastation of hurricanes Irma and Maria and the damages the Territory sustained as a result the cruiselines expressed concerns about bringing their passengers here.
It was disclosed that following discussions at the recent Florida Caribbean Cruise Association’s (FCCA) Seatrade conference in Fort Lauderdale Florida in March Disney Cruise Lines indicated to Minister Vanterpool that they were interested in restarting regular calls to the Territory in July pending the readiness review to take place at the end of this month.
The readiness of the Territory for the ships visit requires that there is temporary overlaying of tour route roads; reconstruction of vendor stalls and bathrooms in Cane Garden Bay, Long Bay (Beef Island) and Brewer’s Bay; underwater cleanup of beaches as a result of the recent storms, removal of remaining hanging wires and fallen utility poles; removal of remaining derelict vehicles; reconstruction and cleanup of certain museums and the reconstruction of buildings at Tortola Pier Park. That list would make even big countries shudder.
In an update this week Minister Vanterpool announced during a public interview that there is still more cleaning to be done. He noted as well that the cruise companies had concerns: “The cruiseship companies are concerned about a few things — one the cleanliness of the beaches, the safety of it.”
“They also want to make sure the vendors are in place and they want to ensure that the roads are safe to travel, that issues like bathrooms are all set; so we are working on that so they can be ready in a very short time,” Hon. Vanterpool announced.
As it relates to the Territory’s readiness for the end of month assessment the Minister for Communications and Works admitted that there were still a few more things to be done: “We are behind, this should have been done long ago, but we are going to tackle it now. We are hoping, we expect to have Disney back in July. We are going to be assessing that next month to see how ready we are for that,” he disclosed.
It was also mentioned that Norwegian cruiselines indicated to government that they intend to return in October. Nonetheless, Hon. Vanterpool said that the plan is to get all of the cruise companies back: “We are working hard to get the other cruiselines. July is the date we are working towards.”
One local commentator observed that the roads still leave a lot to be desired and that only honest and qualified contractors be given the job “else we will have potholes galore forever and ever”.