By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
THOUSANDS of enraged stop-over visitors demanded compensation after the cruise ship they were on was turned away from Prince George dock.
The Norwegian Epic, one of the largest cruise ships in the world, could not dock or allow its 4000 passengers to disembark due to a mix up with the harbour’s berthing schedule on Saturday.
At least several hundred of those visitors, The Tribune understands, were scheduled to use the Atlantis Resort’s facilities. Its public relations chief Ed Fields would only confirm that the hotel’s losses amounted to around $100,000 as a result of the confusion. Mr Fields declined further comment.
Downtown business owners were also “crying shame” on officials for the mishap which they claim is careless and has left them at a disadvantage.
One vendor who relies heavily on cruise ship customers said: “This is one of the biggest cruise ships in the world. How can they just allow it to be turned away? Whatever boat replaced it could not have been as big and could not have brought as many tourists to town. How do you overbook a cruise ship anyway?”
When Port Controller Commander Patrick McNeil was contacted he said he was attending a conference in Jamaica and, therefore, could not discuss the matter.
Mr McNeil referred The Tribune to Carla Stuart, Director of Cruise Developments. When she was eventually contacted after two days of trying to reach her, Ms Stuart confirmed that she was in charge when the incident occurred. However, she insisted that an official from the Ministry of Transport and Aviation had to be contacted. Ms Stuart said she could not comment on the matter.
Several unsuccessful attempts were made to reach Glenys Hanna-Martin, Transport and Aviation Minister.
While the Bahamas in its current financial situation cannot afford such “mistakes”, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe told this newspaper on Tuesday that the incident was not necessarily bad news.
He said: “It tells you that there is a demand for the berths out there.
“But when you are in demand you expect that to happen. Of course with our berthing schedule we intend to perfect it and to make sure that we don’t have those kinds of situations again.
“It happened because of the berthing schedule. There were more vessels booked so they put it in the routine as opposed to having the right amount. So what happens from time to time, and if we do not know ahead of time when the vessel gets here and then there is no berthing space.
“But we are working those things out and it won’t happen again.”
Officials at Norwegian Cruise Lines did not respond to The Tribune’s questions up to press time.