Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Cruise ship visitors enjoy Trinidad's culture

businesses report contrasting sales

MS Veendam


Several cruise ship visitors were observed dancing to soca music as they converged on the capital city of Port of Spain on Tuesday.

According to newspaper vendor Everton Samuel , who plies his trade on Frederick Street, a number of them were seen dancing, or attempting to dance, to the beat of MX Prime's mega-hit "Full Extreme" that was being blasted by music pirates.

The tourists are members of a 1,000 strong contingent from the United States, Europe, Indonesia and the Caribbean who arrived aboard the MS Veendam, one of Holland America Line's cruise ship.

Displaying an Express newspaper, Samuel, 61, said: '“They didn't look sad. They were moving like Trinis. They just “free up”, looking around while absorbing the city's sights and sounds. They were listening to the soca and dancing to Full Extreme. Some of them wanted US, but on the streets it's $7.00 so I told them to go to the banks.

Samuel said some of the visitors were from were from Guadeloupe, Martinique, United States, Germany and France.

“It reminded me of the days when I used to tour with Jit. I went to France, England and Germany,” said Samuel, claiming to be former pannist with Renegades when the late Jit Samaroo was its arranger.

Opon docking, the tourists were treated to the sweet sound of steelpan music of courtesy Trinity Boys College ensemble, before taking to the streets to engage in some shopping, sightseeing, photography and sampling of indigenous cuisine.

Businesses in the city welcomed the visitors, but said that increases in sales were good to some extent, but not overly significant.

At Excellent City Centre Mall, their main item of purchase was food.

One souvenir shop proprietor said while throngs of visitors came to his shop, they did not spend freely. “They are “nickel and dime” passengers. They are buying one, one items such as key chains and mugs, but not really spending. I heard that before their ship docked two people were robbed. We are being affected as a result.”

No complaints about crime 

Netherlands' Guest Relations Associate Esther Hofstra said: “I have not received any complaints. I did not go out into the city.”

Asked her opinion of Trinidad, Hosfra said, "Nice weather. Helpful people.”

She said she enjoyed steelpan music and found it to be infectious.

“I will be sure to go to beach in Tobago. I heard about Pigeon Point,” Hosfra added.

Ukraine visitors Lucy Diagilieva and her friend Victoria were caught hustling back to the ship's sanctuary.

Asked what she liked about Trinidad, Diagilieva, who doesn't speak much English said: “It's warm. Nice. I'm not scared. Never heard of Trinidad before."

At the edge of the Parliament Chamber on Wrightson Road, Indonesia brothers Banyan and Lwang Praestra were spotted taking “selfies.”

Banyan said Trinidad bore similarities to Bali, home of the Subak Irrigation System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One vendor named Pat said, “Sales were good. Some of them bought T-shirts, mugs and cards. I had to sell items cheap, or else people won't buy.”

Shelly Ann Arthur, who sells copper jewelry, also said she experienced good sales. “Very good. They like my personality. I decorated the shop attractively. I don't think visitors had reason to be scared. The port police were here. I saw them talking to them. They looked happy to be in our little island paradise.”