(Brades, Montserrat – March 31, 2011): Residents of Montserrat awoke on the morning of Saturday March 26th, 2011, to the sight of the MV Discovery cruise ship in the harbour at Little Bay. The UK registered ship, was in port from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., allowing the 561 passengers on board ample time to tour and explore the island.
The large majority of the passengers were from the UK and were warmly greeted at the port with steelband and masquerade performances, a hospitality desk and a welcome tropical drink, all courtesy of the Montserrat Tourist Board. Several craft vendors were also on hand, offering unique items for sale to the visitors such as bottled ash, volcano rum and hot sauce, and other volcano inspired souvenir items.
The majority of passengers disembarked, with over 300 persons taking island tours organised by the Montserrat Tour & Taxi Association. These tours took passengers to the Cultural Centre (built from funds raised by former-Beatles producer Sir George Martin), the National Trust, and the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. Some passengers also took trips to Garibaldi Hill and boat tours, to view the destruction of the former capital city Plymouth, which is akin to a modern-day Pompeii.
Disembarking passengers expressed surprise at the excellent and unique tourism product that Montserrat offered, particularly the scenic beauty and lushness of the northern inhabited zone area and the physical development taking place there. Many of them also took back a copy of the Guide to Montserrat, the full-colour tourism information booklet produced by the Montserrat Tourist Board, and expressed a desire to return as stayover visitors.
“The recent visit by the MV Discovery to Montserrat was a very exciting and successful one for us. As we continue to rebuild our tourism sector following several years of volcanic activity, we want the cruising industry to know that we can competently cater to visits by small and medium-sized cruise vessels,” commented the Director of Tourism, Ernestine Cassell. “Additionally, we want to get the message out that a breakwater and new port facilities are being constructed in Little Bay, where our new capital is being situated, which means that within a couple of years Montserrat can offer much impoved passenger handling facilities and services to cruise lines and their passengers.”
The MV Discovery began operation in 1972 with Flagship Cruises, under the name Island Venture. In 1974 she was sold to P&O’s Princess Cruises along with sister ship Sea Venture. The pair were renamed Island Princess and Pacific Princess, with the latter now operating as The Pacific. Both appeared in the popular 1970s television sitcom “The Love Boat”. The ship is 168.8 m (554 ft) long, has a gross tonnage as 20,186, a capacity of 698 passengers, and a top speed of 18 knots (33 km/h).