By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Long Island’s Chamber of Commerce president has hailed the impact of Crystal Cruises’ first-ever visit to the island as “incredible”.
Cheryl de Goicoechea told Tribune Business: “Everybody was excited, everybody was eager to see the passengers come ashore and it was just a great atmosphere - lots of energy, good energy. Everybody was happy, everybody was excited.”
She said Long Island “needed” Crystal Cruises to select it as a port of call and provide the “exposure” that the island desperately requires.
“I’m hoping that, in the future, it will grow and turn into something even better, which might provide more opportunities for the local businesses to be able to provide things for the passengers, or maybe more vendors with more products and just stuff like that,” said Ms de Goicoechea.
Long Island is one of the stops selected by Crystal Cruises for its Luxury Bahamas Escapes Cruises through The Bahamas’s island chain.
Other ports of call on the week-long voyages, which began on July 3 and will last until November, include Exuma and San Salvador.
Both Harbour Island and Spanish Wells were dropped as destinations due to local opposition, while Cat Island proved unfeasible due to the lack of a deep water drop-off point. While Bimini has also been selected as a port of call, the Crystal Serenity will not be calling for the foreseeable future due to the island’s latest COVID-19 outbreak.
Meanwhile, Long Island vendors including preservative and handcrafted souvenir makers were present to greet Crystal Cruises passengers when they disembarked.
Ms de Goicoechea said: “There were about six vendors that were selling their products that I could see. There’s a young man on the island that has lots of beautiful woodwork that he makes, from cutting boards and wine holders and coasters and all kinds of beautiful woodwork.
“Then there’s incredible straw work. There was a lady there with lots of beautiful handbags, and there were a lot a lot of exquisite shell decorations that were made by another gentleman from the north end of the island.”
Ms de Goicoechea added: “I feel like everybody present, and the majority of Long Islanders, are happy that it finally happened. It’s just a historical event. Hopefully it will continue and we can see our island grow a little because it’s been stagnant here for a long, long time.
“I know a lot of people would like it to remain the way it is, but the people living on the island need some income and, without growth, we will remain stagnant.”