SEYCHELLES HEAD TO MIAMI FOR SEA TRADE CONVENTION
Encouraged by the gradual return of cruise ships to the classic Indian Ocean circuits, which has traditionally included the Seychelles, will a delegation from Victoria head to Miami next week to participate in the Sea Trade Convention which takes place between March 12th and 15th. Glynn Burridge from the tourism board will be joined by Lenny Alvis of Masons Travel and Eric Renard of Creole Travel, the archipelagos leading destination management companies and experienced in the handling of cruise ships on port calls.
Only last week did the Seychelles bring the global spotlight to the question of cruises, when making all resources available to bring the Costa Allegra into port after the ship had suffered engine failures due to a fire which broke out on board. The Seychelles dispatched surveillance aircraft immediately the distress call was received and sent coast guard units and two tugs to rendezvous with the drifting ship off one of the archipelagos outer islands before bringing the Costa Allegra safely into port. The exemplary response by the Seychelles government, the port authority and the tourism board was last week hailed as a major achievement for a small country and stands benefit the delegation going to Miami next week through the added publicity the event generated and the ability to come to a ships rescue at a moments notice in the vast waters owned by the Seychelles.
This correspondent also had the opportunity to speak with several passengers of the ill fated cruise on the Costa Allegra who stayed on the island of Praslin at the Black Parrot Suites / Coco de Mer Resort, and while they all preferred anonymity and insisted that no pictures were taken, they did willingly, though off the record, answer questions. They all enjoyed their island holiday, courtesy of the Costa Cruises, on the Seychelles calling it a blessing in disguise after the harrowing experience when the engines of the ship cut and could not be restarted. They said that the crew were competent and helpful throughout the ordeal and that great relief swept the passengers on board when the first Seychellois surveillance aircraft overflew the Costa Allegra, and more so when the ship was then under tow towards first Desroches Island before it was found necessary to move on to Port Victoria. Said one lady with the few words of English she mastered: I will go on a cruise again. This was not something the crew was able to avoid but we followed the emergency procedures how they instructed us to do.
The lack of electricity and water was the most difficult part of it but we got enough food and water the entire time. We had hoped to get off the ship in the other island but then were told they would have to tow us to the main island and so we had to wait another two days. The Seychelles people were the nicest under the situation, they helped to get us to safety. We decided to take the two week vacation here on the Seychelles because at least we can make up for the loss of the rest of the cruise to Egypt and home to Italy. I thank everybody from Seychelles for rescuing us and making us so welcome here. The other passengers shared these sentiments and appeared to be genuinely happy with their stay, although they had to leave the Black Parrot Suites / Coco de Mer Resort as previously booked tourists were arriving leaving the hotel full to the brim and without a single room to spare. The Costa Allegra passengers who decided to remain on the island at the expense of Costa Cruises will be flying home at the end of their holiday on scheduled flights while those who opted to return home immediately missed out on the Carnival International de Victoria last Sunday and having a holiday of a lifetime on the Seychelles. Watch this space.