8 9 OPENING LINES CRUISE EXECUTIVES BUOYED BY USVI HARBOR PLANS T he Ports of the U.S.Virgin Islands group recently completed its quarterly update with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Asso- ciation’s (FCCA) Operations Committee in Miami where cruise executives were briefed and provided feedback on port improvements, including the introduction of transportation to the Charlotte Amalie Harbor this year. The U.S.Virgin Islands team included Commis- sioner of TourismBeverlyNicholson-Doty; Com- missioner of PublicWorks Nelson Petty; Executive Director of theVirgin Islands PortAuthority (VIPA) DavidMapp; Assistant Executive Director andDirec- tor of Engineering,Damian Cartwright; and Clifford Graham,CEOof TheWest Indian CompanyLimited (WICO). Petty outlined progress on implementing harbor transportation and updated the FCCA group on the Main Street and Veterans Drive projects,while Mapp and Cartwright spoke about the proposed dredging of the Charlotte Amalie Harbor, its adja- cent channel as well as cruise ship berths atWICO to accommodate larger Oasis Class vessels.The dredging design for Crown Bayand a newmooring dolphin to accommodateQuantumClass vessels on the north berthwere discussed,alongwith plans for a Christiansted dredge project for St Croix. Graham shared with cruise executives a revised concept for proposed new berths in Charlotte Amalie,while Nicholson-Doty outlined the depart- ment’s updated crisis communications prepared- ness plan and the department’s new Purpose in Paradise “voluntourism”program.The program was met with enthusiasm by the executives pres- ent,who also complimented the U.S.Virgin Islands team for sharing helpful updates in the aftermath of last September’s storms. “Having an ongoingdialoguewiththeFCCAaswe upgradeour infrastructureandvisitor experience isa keycomponentof ourdestinationstrategy,”saidNichol- son-Doty,whounderscoredthat thesafeandfreemove- ment of visitors and traffic complements growth plans as cruise sector activity revives in the territory. “TheFCCAisveryhappywiththehonest andfrank discussions,”saidCarlosTorresdeNavarra,Chairman of theFCCAOperationsCommitteeandVicepresident, Commercial PortOperations of Carnival Cruise Lines. “One of the big things that we’ve been pushing as an industry,and the territoryhas agreed that it was important,was this whole issue of water transporta- tion to add another element towhat is the beautyof the USVI,”he added.“So,we are reallyhappy to hear that, potentially,we’re looking at a fourth quarter installation start of those operations…it’s just one more thing that’s going tomake the USVI great.” Following the Ports of the Virgin Islands meeting, the USVI delegation, along with the FCCAmem- bers,met with tourism and ports representatives from the British Virgin Islands,Dominica, Puerto Rico, and St.Maarten for talks centered on disaster preparedness and strengthening Eastern Caribbe- an itineraries.