THE cruise ship Minerva, which visited Guyana from March 23 with 350 passengers on board leaves today from the Guyana National Shipping Corporation (GNSC) Wharf, where it had been docked.
During the Minerva’s sojourn in Guyana, its passengers were exposed by different aspects of Guyana’s culture. Some 84 passengers went on a tour to Arrow Point nature Resort at Kamuni Creek, while some invested their interest in tours of Georgetown city, visiting craft shops, sampling the local cuisine, and even going for a quick trip to the majestic Kaieteur Falls.
Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), Mr. Indranauth Haralsingh officially welcomed the officer in charge of the Minerva, Captain Alex Dudov, and crew on behalf of the Minister of Tourism, Industry & Commerce, Mr Irfaan Ali and expressed “hope that the ship will include Guyana as a destination more often, and not have the gap of almost 10 years.
“Cruise ships’ visits to Guyana are very important to us, and presently the government is looking to address the possibility of (erecting) a cruise terminal here at Port Georgetown, which will certainly attract more cruise vessels,” Haralsingh disclosed.
Captain Dudov replied: “We are on a South American tour, and will proceed to Barbados. I was reading about Guyana in the Explore Guyana. I must say it is (a) very beautiful country, and my feedbacks from guests are excellent. And in our future planning, we will definitely lobby to revisit Guyana.”
Mr Eddie Thomson, Hotel Director, related that the reaction from the passengers was superb, and they have expressed interest to visit again and experience more of what Guyana has to offer.
Thomson gave the media a grand tour of the ship, and said the ship has nine levels, carries 174 crew members, and weighs approximately 11,500 tonnes.
Claudette Burnette, the lone Guyanese on the cruise, said: “The cruise is fabulous. It’s the second time I am on it. I am Guyanese born and bred, but I live in London and have been residing there for the last 50 years; and I chose this cruise because it was stopping in Guyana.”
The first Minerva was not a cruise ship. Built in 1989, it was originally intended as a Soviet research vessel, the Okean. The ship was purchased in 1996 and renamed Minerva. Minerva sailed with Swan Hellenic until its lease ran out in 2003; and then it briefly sailed with Saga Cruises as the Saga Pearl. It was then chartered to Abercrombie & Kent as the Explorer II, making voyages to Antarctica and South America from December to April with up to 198 passengers. In July 2007 it was announced that the ship had been acquired by the re-launched Swan Hellenic line, and the name was reverted to the Minerva.
(By Rebecca Ganesh-Ally)