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Barbados’ bid to become the No. 1 cruise destination in the Southern Carribean made a gigantic splash in the right direction when one of the largest cruise ships, the Queen Elizabeth, sailed into the Bridgetown Port at dawn yesterday morning. Joining four other ships, Explorer of the Seas, Crystal Serenity and home porters, Wind Surf and Royal Clipper to bring a total of 6 816 passengers to the island one day after Christmas, Queen Elizabeth made Barbados its second port of stay on its inaugural trip bringing all of the pomp and pageantry that would follow the arrival of the monarch whose name it bears. Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, British High Commissioner Paul Brummel, along with Chairman of the Port David Harding, General Manager Everton Walters, BTA Cruise Director Ryan Blackett and CEO of Platinum/Foster Ince, Martin Ince were smiling all morning that reflected the opulent grandeur of the ship as well as the closer realisation of redefining Barbados as a world brand cruise destination. Captain Julian Burgess did not hide his obvious love affair with Barbados and he confessed that like many of his passengers he viewed Barbados as home. Burgess also had the enviable honour of sailing Oceana into Bridgetown on its maiden voyage many years ago. In welcoming the ship and crew, Sealy expressed his joy and pride in the fact that Barbados was able to accommdate such large vessels without having to use the method of years ago where the ship berthed offshore and the passengers had to be ferried to port. The sign “Welcome to Barbados” seemed a superfluous statement as the bright, warm Caribbean sun which welcomed the thousands who were flowing ashore provided a postcard backdrop. Even when it rained for almost 20 minutes it seemed on cue to give the large British contingent a nostalgic setting of home. Chairman Harding, while speaking in the luxurious yacht club, promised that the Bridgetown Port would be redefined as it related to cruise tourism. “New and exciting trade lines are opening up with South and Central America. Just as Puerto Rico has become a super hub in the North we are moving to make Barbados a similar super hub in the South,” Harding added. Ince explained that the Queen Elizabeth is expected to visit Barbados twice a year which would supplement the six yearly trips currently being made by Queen Mary and Queen Victoria. “It is great that this ship makes Barbados its second stop on its inaugural cruise and this is in keeping with the great love affair which the British have with Barbados. “The historical connection which Barbados has with England and the great package which our island offers as a cruise destination is what attracts visits and pasengers like those on board the Queen Elizabeth and the other ships currently in Port,” Ince pointed out. The ship was expected to sail down the West Coast to tantalise those persons in that area with some of its magnificence. With staterooms of grandeur, a theatre with private boxes and general seating for 800 plus a main dining hall that accommodates 800, the Queen Elizabeth can easily provide a home away from home for the lady who commissioned the vessel in her name back in October. The saying of ‘you can find a Bajan anywhere’ can be redefined to say that you can find a Bajan excelling anywhere. When the Queen Elizabeth sailed into the Bridgetown Port yesterday on its inaugural trip to the island, the number one Caribbean band on Board was Serious Sounds with leader Peter King along with Steven Ward, Arnold Shepherd and Edison Shepherd having the honour of providing the infectious rhythms for the passengers. King said that they joined the ship from Italy where it was taken over from the builders and then they travelled to South Hampton where the Queen commissioned the vessel. The Bajan musician indicated that they were enjoying the assignment and they were prepared to keep the Bajan flag flying high on the top class vessel.